Diplacusis (Double Hearing): Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

June 4, 2024 0

Hearing loss affects millions of people, but there are also some lesser-known conditions like diplacusis (double hearing) that can affect your hearing as well. In this guide, we provide a detailed overview of what diplacusis is, including common symptoms of the condition, what causes it, and various treatment options. 

What is Diplacusis? (Double Hearing)

Our ability to hear relies on both ears working together to create a clear perception of sound. Similar to how the brain merges the sight of our two eyes into a single image, it also blends sound from both ears to provide unified sound perception. However, when our auditory system is compromised, diplacusis, or double hearing, can occur.  

Diplacusis is a hearing condition that causes a single sound to be perceived differently by either one or both ears, resulting in a double hearing effect. With this condition, the pitch, volume, or even timing of a sound can be affected.

Symptoms of Diplacusis 

The symptoms of this condition typically come on suddenly, but the specific double hearing effect that you experience can vary depending on the type of diplacusis you have: 

  • Diplacusis Monauralis: double hearing in only one ear (less common type) 
  • Diplacusis Binauralis: double hearing in both ears (more common type)
    • Diplacusis Dysharmonica: one ear perceives a sound at a different pitch than the other ear (most common subtype of Diplacusis Binauralis) 
    • Diplacusis Echoica: one ear hears a sound faster than the other ear, creating an echo effect (a less common subtype of Diplacusis Binauralis)

In addition to the double hearing effect, diplacusis is also associated with other symptoms including dizziness or disorientation, difficulty understanding speech, and tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears). 

Causes of Diplacusis 

Double hearing is usually a symptom of another underlying condition. This could be damage to the inner ear (sensorineural hearing loss) or a blockage in the ear canal (conductive hearing loss).

Inner Ear Damage (Sensorineural Hearing Loss) 

Double hearing is a common symptom of sensorineural hearing loss, which occurs when the microscopic hair cells located in the inner ear (cochlea) get damaged. These tiny hair cells are responsible for converting sound into electrical signals for the brain.  

Common causes of inner ear damage include:

  • Head trauma: A blow to the head can damage the inner ear and result in double hearing.
  • Acoustic trauma: This is hearing damage caused by exposure to loud noise such as an explosion, which can result in double hearing.
  • Ototoxic medications: Certain medications can have a toxic effect on the inner ear. This can cause double hearing, as well as permanent hearing loss. 
  • Meniere’s disease: This is an inner ear disorder that can cause tinnitus, vertigo, and hearing loss. Double hearing can also be a symptom of Meniere’s disease. 

Ear Canal Obstructions (Conductive Hearing Loss)

Double hearing can also be caused by a blockage in the ear canal, which is a condition called conductive hearing loss. When sound waves are unable to reach the eardrum properly, it can distort the way that sound is perceived, sometimes resulting in double hearing.

Common causes of ear canal obstructions include:

  • Earwax buildup: Earwax is a natural substance that helps to protect the ear canal. However, excessive earwax build-up can block the ear canal and cause several hearing issues, including double hearing.
  • Ear infection: An ear infection can cause inflammation and swelling in the ear canal, which can block the ear canal and cause a double hearing effect. 
  • Foreign object: Any foreign object causing a blockage in the ear canal can cause hearing issues, including double hearing.

Diplacusis Treatment Options 

If you are experiencing symptoms of double hearing, it is important to see a hearing healthcare specialist as soon as possible. Timely diagnosis is crucial to identify the underlying cause and determine the best treatment option. 

The most common treatments for diplacusis include: 

  • Obstruction removal: If diplacusis is caused by an obstruction in the ear canal, such as earwax buildup, the effects should stop once the obstruction has been removed.
  • Antibiotics: Double hearing caused by a blockage due to infection or inflammation in the ear canal, typically subsides with treatment of the underlying condition with antibiotics. 
  • Hearing aids: The use of hearing aids can treat both hearing loss and double hearing associated with inner ear damage. 

Schedule a Hearing Exam at an Audibel Clinic Near You 

Diplacusis, or double hearing, is a type of hearing loss where the same sound is perceived differently in one or both of your ears. If you are experiencing symptoms of double hearing or any changes in your hearing, contact a specialist as soon as possible for care.  

Don’t wait–schedule a hearing consultation at an Audibel clinic near you today. 

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