Gilberts Audiology & Hearing Aid Center - Oklahoma

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

The world was very different millions of years ago. This steamy, volcano-laden landscape is where the long-necked Diplacusis wandered. Thanks to its really long neck and tail, Diplacusis was so large that it was afraid of no predator.

Actually, the long-necked dinosaur from the Jurassic Period is called Diplodocus. Diplacusis is a hearing affliction that causes you to hear two sounds instead of one.

While it’s not a “horrible lizard,” in many ways diplacusis can be a menace on its own, causing a hearing experience that feels confusing and out of sorts (frequently making communication challenging or impossible).

Perhaps your hearing has been a bit strange lately

We’re accustomed to thinking of hearing loss as a kind of progressive lowering of the volume knob. According to this notion, over time, we simply hear less and less. But in some cases, hearing loss can manifest in some peculiar ways. One of the most interesting (or, possibly, frustrating) such manifestations is a condition called diplacusis.

What is diplacusis?

So, what’s diplacusis? Diplacusis is a medical name that means, basically, “double hearing”. Normally, your brain gets information from the right ear and information from the left ear and combines them harmoniously into one sound. This blended sound is what you hear. Your eyes are doing the same thing. If you put a hand over your right eye and then a hand over your left eye, you see slightly different images, right? Normally, with your ears, you don’t even notice it.

When your brain can’t successfully integrate the two sounds from your ears because they are too different, you have this condition of diplacusis. Monaural diplacusis is caused by hearing loss in only one ear while binaural diplacusis is caused by hearing loss in both.

Diplacusis comes in two kinds

Different people are impacted in different ways by diplacuses. However, there are usually two basic types of diplacusis:

  • Diplacusis echoica: This happens when the pitch is mostly the same from ear to ear, but due to your hearing loss, the timing is all wonky. Artifacts like echoes can be the result. And understanding speech can become complicated as a result.
  • Diplacusis dysharmonica: When the pitch of the right and left ear are off it’s a sign of this form of diplacusis. So the sound will be distorted when somebody talks to you. One side may sound high-pitched and the other low-pitched. This can make those sounds difficult to understand.

Diplacusis symptoms

Here are a few symptoms of diplacusis:

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

Having said that, it’s useful to view diplacusis as akin to double vision: Yes, it can produce 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 cases, 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 schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist.

What are the causes diplacusis?

In a very basic sense (and probably not surprisingly), the causes of diplacusis line up quite well with the causes of hearing loss. But you could experience diplacusis for numerous particular reasons:

  • 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 moves through your inner ear and to your brain.
  • Earwax: In some circumstances, an earwax blockage can hinder your ability to hear. That earwax obstruction can lead to diplacusis.
  • Your ears have damage related to noise: If you’ve experienced hearing loss caused by noise damage, it’s feasible that it could cause diplacusis.
  • A tumor: Diplacusis can, in rare situations, be caused by a tumor in your ear canal. Don’t panic! They’re usually benign. Nevertheless, it’s something you should speak with your hearing specialist about!

It’s clear that there are many of the same causes of diplacusis and hearing loss. Which means that if you have diplacusis, it’s a good bet something is interfering with your ability to hear. Which means you have a good reason to visit a hearing specialist.

How is diplacusis treated?

Depending on the underlying cause, there are a few possible treatments. If your condition is the result of a blockage, like earwax, then treatment will concentrate on the removal of that blockage. But permanent sensorineural hearing loss is more frequently the cause. Here are some treatment options if that’s the situation:

  • Hearing aids: Your hearing can be neutralized with the right pair of hearing aids. This means that the symptoms of diplacusis will likely fade. It’s essential to get the correct settings on your hearing aids and you’ll need to have us help you with that.
  • Cochlear implant: In cases where the hearing loss at the root of diplacusis is profound, a cochlear implant may be the only way to get relief from the symptoms.

A hearing exam is the first step to getting to the bottom of the problem. Think about it this way: whatever type of hearing loss is the source of your diplacusis, a hearing test will be able to establish that (perhaps you simply think things sound strange at this point and you don’t even recognize it as diplacusis). We have very sensitive hearing tests nowadays and any inconsistencies with how your ears are hearing the world will be detected.

Hearing clearly is more fun than not

Getting the appropriate treatment for your diplacusis, whether that’s a hearing aid or something else, means you’ll be more capable of participating in your daily life. It will be easier to talk to people. It will be easier to stay in tune with your family.

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

Call today for an appointment to get your diplacusis symptoms assessed.

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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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