Evanston Audiology - Evanston, IL

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 roamed this volcano-laden landscape. Diplacusis was so big, 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 a condition which can be challenging and confusing leading to difficulty with communication.

Maybe you’ve been hearing some strange things

Usually, we regard hearing loss as our hearing becoming muted or quiet over time. Over time, the story goes, we just hear less and less. But sometimes, hearing loss can manifest in some peculiar ways. One of the most fascinating (or, perhaps, frustrating) such presentations is a condition called diplacusis.

What is diplacusis?

So, what’s diplacusis? Diplacusis is a medical term that means, pretty simply, “double hearing”. Usually, your brain will blend the sound from your right and left ear into one sound. That’s what you hear. Your eyes are doing the same thing. If you put a hand on 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 usually, you never notice it.

Diplacusis happens when the hearing abilities of your ears vary so significantly that your brain can no longer blend them, at least not well. Monaural diplacusis is a result of hearing loss in only one ear while binaural diplacusis is due to hearing loss in both.

Diplacusis comes in two types

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

  • Diplacusis echoica: With this, what you hear will seem off because your brain receives the sound from each ear out of sync with the other instead of hearing two different pitches. Artifacts like echoes can be the result. And understanding speech can become difficult as a result.
  • Diplacusis dysharmonica: This form of diplacusis occurs when the pitch of the right ear and the pitch of the left ear seem off. So the sound will be distorted when someone talks to you. One side might sound high-pitched and the other low-pitched. This can cause those sounds to be difficult to understand.

Diplacusis symptoms

The symptoms of diplacusis could include:

  • Off pitch hearing
  • Off timing hearing
  • Phantom echoes

Having said that, it’s helpful to view diplacusis as similar to double vision: 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.) In these circumstances, diplacusis is almost always a symptom of hearing loss (either in one ear or in both ears). So your best course of action would be to make an appointment with us for a hearing test.

What are the causes diplacusis?

In a very basic sense (and maybe not surprisingly), the causes of diplacusis line up rather nicely with the causes of hearing loss. But you may develop diplacusis for several specific reasons:

  • Earwax: In some circumstances, an earwax obstruction can hinder your ability to hear. That earwax blockage can lead to diplacusis.
  • Noise-related damage to your ears: If you’ve experienced hearing loss due to noise damage, it’s feasible that it could cause 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 travel into your inner ear (and therefore your brain).
  • A tumor: Diplacusis can, in rare cases, be the result of a tumor inside of your ear canal. But stay calm! They’re normally benign. But you still should speak with us about it.

As you can see, diplacusis and hearing loss have many of the same typical causes. Meaning that you probably have some level of hearing loss if you have diplacusis. So you should absolutely come in and see us.

Treatments for diplacusis

Depending on the main cause, there are a few possible treatments. If you have a blockage, treating your diplacusis will center around clearing it out. But permanent sensorineural hearing loss is more frequently the cause. Here are some treatment options if that’s the situation:

  • Hearing aids: The correct set of hearing aids can equalize how your ears hear again. Your diplacusis symptoms will gradually fade when you take advantage of hearing aids. You’ll want to speak with us about getting the right settings for your hearing aids.
  • Cochlear implant: A cochlear implant may 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 like this: whatever kind of hearing loss is the source of your diplacusis, a hearing exam will be able to identify that (maybe you just think things sound strange at this point and you don’t even identify it as diplacusis). Modern hearing tests are really sensitive, and good at detecting discrepancies between how your ears hear the world.

Hearing well is more fun than not

You’ll be better able to enjoy your life when you get the proper treatment for your diplacusis, whether that’s hearing aids or some other treatment. Talking with others 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.

Call today for an appointment to get 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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