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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. Diplacusis was so big, thanks to its long tail and neck, that no other predators were a threat.

Actually, Diplodocus is the long-necked dinosaur from the Jurassic Period. When you’re hearing two sounds simultaneously, that’s a hearing condition called diplacusis.

Diplacusis is a condition which can be frustrating and confusing resulting in difficulty communicating.

Perhaps your hearing has been a bit strange lately

We’re accustomed to regarding hearing loss as a kind of progressive decreasing of the volume knob. Over time, the story goes, we just hear less and less. But there are some other, not so well known, forms of hearing loss. Diplacusis is one of the weirder, and also more frustrating, of these hearing conditions.

Diplacusis, what is it?

Exactly what is diplacusis? Diplacusis is a medical name that means, pretty simply, “double hearing”. Normally, your brain takes information from the right ear and information from the left ear and marries them harmoniously into one sound. That’s what you hear. Your eyes are doing the same thing. If you place a hand over your right eye and then a hand over your left eye, you see slightly different images, right? Your ears are the same, it’s just that usually, you never notice it.

Diplacusis occurs when the hearing abilities of your ears differ so wildly that your brain can no longer blend them, at least not well. You can experience diplacusis due to hearing loss in one ear (called monaural diplacusis) or both ears (binaural diplacusis).

Diplacusis comes in two forms

Diplacusis doesn’t affect everyone in the same way. However, there are typically two basic types of diplacusis:

  • Diplacusis dysharmonica: When the pitch of the right and left ear don’t match it’s an indicator of this form of diplacusis. So the sound will be distorted when someone talks to you. One side may sound high-pitched and the other low-pitched. Those sounds can be difficult to understand consequently.
  • Diplacusis echoica: With this, what you hear will seem off because your brain gets the sound from each ear out of sync with the other rather than hearing two separate pitches. Artifacts like echoes can be the result. And understanding speech can become challenging because of this.

Diplacusis symptoms

The symptoms of diplacusis can include:

  • Hearing that seems off (in timing).
  • Hearing that sounds off (in pitch).
  • Phantom echoes

The condition of double vision could be a helpful comparison: Yes, it can develop some symptoms on its own, but it’s normally itself a symptom of something else. (It’s the effect, essentially, not the cause.) In these cases, diplacusis is almost always a symptom of hearing loss (either in one ear or in both ears). So your best strategy would be to Schedule an appointment with us for a hearing test.

What causes diplacusis?

The causes of diplacusis line up rather well, in a general sense, with the causes of hearing loss. But you may experience diplacusis for numerous specific reasons:

  • Earwax: Your hearing can be affected by an earwax obstruction. That earwax blockage can cause diplacusis.
  • An infection: Ear infections, sinus infections, or even just plain old allergies can cause your ear canal to swell. This swelling is a normal immune reaction, but it can impact the way sound waves move through your inner ear (and therefore your brain).
  • Noise-related damage to your ears: If you’ve experienced hearing loss as a result of noise damage, it’s possible that it could cause diplacusis.
  • A tumor: In some very rare situations, tumors inside your ear canal can result in diplacusis. But stay calm! In most cases they’re benign. Nevertheless, it’s something you should talk to your hearing specialist about!

As you can see, diplacusis and hearing loss have many of the same common causes. Meaning that you most likely have some degree of hearing loss if you have diplacusis. So you should definitely come in and see us.

How is diplacusis treated?

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

  • Hearing aids: Your hearing can be equalized with the right pair of hearing aids. Your diplacusis symptoms will slowly fade when you take advantage of hearing aids. It’s important to get the right settings on your hearing aids and you’ll need to have us assist you with that.
  • Cochlear implant: A cochlear implant might be the only way of managing diplacusis if the root cause is profound hearing loss.

All of this begins with a hearing exam. Think about it like this: a hearing test will be able to identify what kind of hearing loss is at the source of your diplacusis (perhaps you simply think things sound weird at this point and you don’t even identify it as diplacusis). We have very sensitive hearing tests nowadays and any discrepancies with how your ears are hearing the world will be detected.

Life is more fun when you can hear clearly

You’ll be better able to enjoy your life when you get the appropriate treatment for your diplacusis, whether that’s hearing aids or some other treatment. Conversations will be easier. Keeping up with your family will be easier.

So there will be no diplacusis symptoms interfering with your ability to hear your grandkids telling you all about the Diplodocus.

If you think 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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