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

The world was rather different millions of years ago. This steamy, volcano-laden landscape is where the long-necked Diplacusis roamed. Diplacusis was so big, thanks to its long tail and neck, that no other predators were a threat.

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

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

Perhaps your hearing has been a bit weird lately

Typically, we think of hearing loss as our hearing getting muted or quiet over time. According to this notion, over time, we simply hear less and less. But there are some other, not so well known, forms of hearing loss. One of the most fascinating (or, perhaps, frustrating) such presentations is a condition called diplacusis.

What is diplacusis?

So, what is diplacusis? Diplacusis is a medical name that means, basically, “double hearing”. Usually, your brain will blend the sound from your right and left ear into a single sound. That’s what you hear. The same thing happens with your eyes. You will see slightly different images if you cover each eye one at a time. Usually, with your ears, you won’t even notice it.

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

Diplacusis comes in two types

Diplacusis does not affect everyone in the same way. Normally, though, individuals will experience one of the following two forms of diplacusis:

  • Diplacusis dysharmonica: This form of diplacusis occurs when the pitch of the right ear and the pitch of the left ear seem off. So when your grandkids talk to you, the pitch of their voice will sound distorted. Perhaps your right ear thinks the sound is low-pitched and your left ear thinks the sound is high-pitched. Those sounds can be hard to understand consequently.
  • Diplacusis echoica: This occurs when the pitch is nearly the same from ear to ear, but due to your hearing loss, the timing is all wonky. Artifacts like echoes can be the result. This can also cause difficulty with regard to understanding speech.

Symptoms of diplacusis

The symptoms of diplacusis can include:

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

The condition of double vision might be a helpful comparison: It’s normally a symptom of something else, but it can create some of its own symptoms. (It’s the effect, essentially, not the cause.) In these circumstances, diplacusis is almost 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 a hearing specialist.

What causes diplacusis?

In a very general sense (and probably not surprisingly), the causes of diplacusis line up rather nicely with the causes of hearing loss. But you could experience diplacusis for a number of specific reasons:

  • Earwax: Your hearing can be affected by an earwax obstruction. Whether that earwax forms a partial or full obstruction, it can lead to diplacusis.
  • Noise-related damage to your ears: If you’ve experienced enough loud sounds to damage your ears, it’s feasible that the same damage has brought about hearing loss, and as a result, diplacusis.
  • An infection: Ear infections, sinus infections, or even normal allergies can cause your ear canal to become inflamed. This swelling is a common immune response, but it can influence how sound waves move through your inner ear (and subsequently your brain).
  • A tumor: Diplacusis can, in rare instances, be the result of a tumor inside of your ear canal. But remain calm! They’re usually benign. Still, it’s something you should speak with your hearing specialist about!

It’s obvious that there are a number of the same causes of diplacusis and hearing loss. Meaning that you probably have some degree of hearing loss if you’re experiencing diplacusis. So you should absolutely come in and talk to us.

Treatments for diplacusis

Depending on the main cause, there are several possible treatments. If you have an obstruction, treating your diplacusis will center around clearing it out. However, diplacusis is often caused by permanent sensorineural hearing loss. In these cases, the best treatment options include:

  • Hearing aids: The right pair of hearing aids can neutralize how your ears hear again. Your diplacusis symptoms will gradually fade when you take advantage of hearing aids. You’ll want to talk to us about finding the correct settings for your hearing aids.
  • Cochlear implant: A cochlear implant might be the only way of dealing with diplacusis if the root cause is profound hearing loss.

All of this begins with a hearing assessment. Think about it this way: whatever kind of hearing loss is the source of your diplacusis, a hearing test will be able to determine that (maybe you just think things sound weird at this point and you don’t even identify it as diplacusis). We have extremely sensitive hearing tests nowadays and any inconsistencies with how your ears are hearing the world will be found.

Hearing clearly is more fun than not

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

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

Call today for an appointment to have your diplacusis symptoms checked.

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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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