Diplacusis: When Your Hearing is 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 large, due to its long tail and neck, that no other predators were a threat.

Actually, Diplodocus is the long-necked dinosaur from the Jurassic Period. 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 communicating.

Perhaps your hearing has been a bit weird lately

Usually, we regard hearing loss as our hearing getting muted or quiet over time. Over time, the idea is, we simply hear less and less. But in some cases, hearing loss can manifest in some peculiar ways. 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 term that means, pretty simply, “double hearing”. Normally, your brain gets information from the right ear and information from the left ear and combines them harmoniously into a single sound. That’s what you hear. Your eyes are doing the same thing. You will see slightly different images if you put your hand over each eye one at a time. Usually, with your ears, you won’t even notice it.

When your brain can’t effectively combine 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 caused by hearing loss in both.

Two kinds of diplacusis

Different individuals are impacted in different ways by diplacuses. Normally, though, individuals will experience one of the following two forms of diplacusis:

  • Diplacusis echoica: This happens when the pitch is mostly the same from ear to ear, but because of your hearing loss, the timing is all wonky. This could cause echoes (or, instead, artifacts that sound similar to echoes). This can also cause difficulty when it comes to understanding speech.
  • Diplacusis dysharmonica: When the pitch of the right and left ear don’t match it’s a sign of this type of diplacusis. So the sound will be distorted when somebody talks to you. Maybe your right ear thinks the sound is low-pitched and your left ear thinks the sound is high-pitched. This can cause those sounds to be hard to make out.

Symptoms of diplacusis

Here are a few symptoms of diplacusis:

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

The condition of double vision may be a helpful comparison: Yes, it can develop some symptoms on its own, but it’s usually itself a symptom of something else. (It’s the effect, essentially, not the cause.) Diplacusis, in these cases, is most likely a symptom of hearing loss. As a result, if you experience diplacusis, you should probably schedule an appointment with us.

What causes diplacusis?

The causes of diplacusis line up quite well, in a general way, with the causes of hearing loss. But you may develop diplacusis for numerous particular reasons:

  • An infection: Ear infections, sinus infections, or even just plain old allergies can cause your ear canal to swell. This swelling, while a typical response, can effect the way sound travels through your inner ear and to your brain.
  • Earwax: In some circumstances, an earwax blockage can impede your hearing. Whether that earwax causes a partial or full blockage, it can lead to diplacusis.
  • Your ears have damage caused by noise: If you’ve experienced hearing loss caused by noise damage, it’s possible that it could trigger diplacusis.
  • A tumor: In some really rare instances, tumors inside your ear canal can lead to diplacusis. But remain calm! In most instances 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 typical causes. Meaning that you likely have some degree of hearing loss if you’re experiencing diplacusis. So you should definitely come in and see us.

How is diplacusis treated?

Depending on the root cause, there are several possible treatments. If you have a blockage, treating your diplacusis will center around clearing it out. However, diplacusis is often due to irreversible sensorineural hearing loss. Here are a few treatment options if that’s the situation:

  • Hearing aids: The correct pair of hearing aids can neutralize how your ears hear again. This means that the symptoms of diplacusis will likely disappear. You’ll want to consult us about finding the correct 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.

All of this starts with a hearing exam. Think about it like this: whatever kind of hearing loss is the cause of your diplacusis, a hearing test will be able to determine that (and, to be fair, you might not even recognize it as diplacusis, you may just think things sound weird these days). Modern hearing tests are quite sensitive, and good at detecting discrepancies between how your ears hear the world.

Life is more fun when you can hear clearly

Getting the proper 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. Conversations will be easier. It will be easier to stay in tune with your family.

So there will be no diplacusis symptoms getting in the way of your ability to hear your grandkids telling you all about the Diplodocus.

Call today for an appointment to have 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.