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A black background with a woman who is hearing things in stereo and suffering from diplacusis.

The world was extremely different millions of years ago. The long-necked Diplacusis wandered this volcano-laden landscape. Thanks to its really long neck and tail, Diplacusis was so big that it feared no predator.

Actually, Diplodocus is the long-necked dinosaur from the Jurassic Period. Diplacusis is a hearing affliction that causes you to hear two sounds at the same time.

Diplacusis is an affliction which can be challenging and confusing leading to difficulty communicating.

Perhaps you’ve been hearing some strange things

Typically, we regard hearing loss as our hearing getting muted or quiet over time. Over time, the story goes, we simply hear less and less. But sometimes, hearing loss can manifest in some unusual ways. Diplacusis is one of the weirder, and also more frustrating, of these hearing problems.

What is diplacusis?

Exactly what is diplacusis? Diplacusis is a medical term that means, pretty simply, “double hearing”. Typically, your brain will mix the sound from your right and left ear into a single sound. That’s what you hear. The same thing occurs with your eyes. You will see slightly different images if you cover each eye one at a time. Your ears are the same, it’s just that usually, you don’t notice it.

Diplacusis occurs when the hearing abilities of your ears differ so wildly that your brain can no longer combine them, at least not well. Monaural diplacusis is a result of hearing loss in only one ear while binaural diplacusis is caused by hearing loss in both.

Diplicusis comes in two kinds

Diplacusis does not impact everybody in the same way. Usually, though, people will experience one of the following two types of diplacusis:

  • Diplacusis dysharmonica: This kind of diplacusis happens when the pitch of the right ear and the pitch of the left ear are hearing sound as two different pitches. So the sound will be distorted when someone speaks with you. Perhaps your right ear hears the sound as low-pitched and your left ear thinks the sound is high-pitched. Those sounds can be difficult to understand as a result.
  • Diplacusis echoica: With this, what you hear will sound off because your brain gets the sound from each ear out of sync with the other instead of hearing two separate pitches. This could cause echoes (or, instead, artifacts that sound like echoes). This can also cause challenges in terms of understanding speech.

Symptoms of diplacusis

Here are some symptoms of diplacusis:

  • Hearing that sounds off (in pitch).
  • Hearing echoes where they don’t actually exist.
  • Off timing hearing

The condition of double vision may be a useful comparison: Yes, it can develop some symptoms on its own, but it’s normally itself a symptom of something else. (In other words, it’s the effect, not the cause.) In these circumstances, diplacusis is nearly always a symptom of hearing loss (either in one ear or in both ears). Consequently, if you experience diplacusis, you should probably make an appointment with us.

What are the causes diplacusis?

In a very general sense (and perhaps not surprisingly), the causes of diplacusis line up quite nicely with the causes of hearing loss. But there are a few specific reasons why you might develop diplacusis:

  • An infection: Inflammation of your ear canal can be the outcome of an ear infection, sinus infection, or even allergies. This swelling, while a normal response, can effect the way sound travels through your inner ear and to your brain.
  • Earwax: In some circumstances, an earwax blockage can interfere with your ability to hear. Whether that earwax causes a partial or complete obstruction, it can cause diplacusis.
  • Your ears have damage related to noise: If you’ve experienced enough loud noises to damage your ears, it’s possible that the same damage has resulted in hearing loss, and as a result, diplacusis.
  • A tumor: In some very rare cases, tumors inside your ear canal can cause diplacusis. Don’t panic! In most cases they’re benign. Nevertheless, it’s something you should speak with your hearing specialist about!

As you can see, diplacusis and hearing loss have many of the same typical causes. Meaning that you likely have some amount of hearing loss if you’re experiencing diplacusis. So you should absolutely come in and see us.

How is diplacusis treated?

The treatments for diplacusis vary based on the underlying cause. If your condition is the result of a blockage, like earwax, then treatment will focus on the removal of that obstruction. However, diplacusis is often brought on by permanent sensorineural hearing loss. Here are a few treatment options if that’s the situation:

  • Hearing aids: The right set of hearing aids can equalize how your ears hear again. This means that the symptoms of diplacusis will likely fade. You’ll want to talk to us about getting the correct settings for your hearing aids.
  • Cochlear implant: A cochlear implant may be the only way of dealing with diplacusis if the root cause is profound hearing loss.

A hearing exam is the first step to getting to the bottom of the problem. Here’s how you can think about it: a hearing test will be able to determine what kind of hearing loss is at the source of your diplacusis (maybe you just think things sound strange at this point and you don’t even identify it as diplacusis). We have extremely sensitive hearing tests nowadays and any discrepancies with how your ears are hearing the world will be detected.

Hearing clearly is more fun than not

You’ll be better able to enjoy your life when you get the correct treatment for your diplacusis, whether that’s hearing aids or some other treatment. It will be easier to carry on conversations. It will be easier to communicate with your family.

Which means, you’ll be able to hear your grandkids tell you all about what a Diplodocus is, and you (hopefully) won’t have any diplacusis to impede you.

If you believe you have diplacusis and want to have it checked, call today for an appointment.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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