Diplacusis: When You Hear Things in Stereo

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

Millions of years ago, the world was much different. This steamy, volcano-laden landscape is where the long-necked Diplacusis wandered. 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 at the same time.

Diplacusis is an affliction which can be challenging and confusing causing difficulty with communication.

Perhaps you’ve been hearing some strange things

We’re accustomed to thinking of hearing loss as a sort of gradual decreasing of the volume knob. According to this idea, over time, we simply hear less and less. But there are some other, not so well recognized, types of hearing loss. One of the most fascinating (or, perhaps, frustrating) such manifestations is a condition called diplacusis.

What is diplacusis?

Exactly 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. If you put a hand over your right eye and then a hand on your left eye, you see slightly different images, right? Your ears are the same, it’s just that typically, you never notice it.

When your brain can’t efficiently merge the two sounds from your ears because they are too different, you have this condition of diplacusis. Monaural diplacusis is a result of hearing loss in only one ear while binaural diplacusis is due to hearing loss in both.

Two types of diplacusis

Diplacusis doesn’t affect everyone in the same way. Usually, though, individuals will experience one of the following two types of diplacusis:

  • Diplacusis dysharmonica: This type 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 talks to you. One side might sound high-pitched and the other low-pitched. This can make those sounds difficult to make out.
  • Diplacusis echoica: This occurs when the pitch is nearly the same from ear to ear, but because of your hearing loss, the timing is out of whack. Artifacts similar to echoes can be the outcome. And understanding speech can become complicated because of this.

Symptoms of diplacusis

The symptoms of diplacusis can include:

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

That said, it’s helpful to view diplacusis as similar to double vision: It’s usually a symptom of something else, but it can produce some of its own symptoms. (It’s the effect, essentially, not the cause.) Diplacusis, in these cases, is probably a symptom of hearing loss. So your best course of action would be to Schedule an appointment with us for a hearing test.

What causes diplacusis?

In a very general sense (and maybe not surprisingly), the causes of diplacusis align rather well with the causes of hearing loss. But you could develop diplacusis for several particular reasons:

  • An infection: Inflammation of your ear canal can be the consequence of an ear infection, sinus infection, or even allergies. This inflammation is a normal immune response, but it can impact the way sound waves travel into your inner ear (and therefore your brain).
  • Earwax: In some instances, an earwax blockage can impede your ability to hear. Whether that earwax forms a partial or complete blockage, it can lead to diplacusis.
  • Noise-related damage to your ears: If you’ve experienced hearing loss caused by noise damage, it’s feasible that it could cause diplacusis.
  • A tumor: In some very rare circumstances, tumors in your ear canal can cause diplacusis. Don’t panic! They’re usually benign. Still, it’s something you should speak with your hearing specialist about!

It’s obvious that there are many of the same causes of hearing loss and diplacusis. Meaning that you most likely have some level of hearing loss if you’re experiencing diplacusis. So you should absolutely come in and see us.

Treatments for diplacusis

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

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

A hearing test is the first step to getting it all figured out. Think about it this way: a hearing assessment will be able to establish what type of hearing loss is at the source of your diplacusis (and, to be fair, you might not even recognize it as diplacusis, you may just think things sound weird these days). We have very sensitive hearing tests nowadays and any discrepancies with how your ears are hearing the world will be found.

Life is more fun when you can hear clearly

You’ll be better able to enjoy your life when you get the correct treatment for your diplacusis, whether that’s hearing aids or something else. Talking with others will be easier. It will be easier to communicate with your family.

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 impede you.

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

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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