Diplacusis: the syndrome of "double hearing"

Understanding Diplacusis: types, causes & treatment
Last update on Oct, 19, 2021

Diplacusis, or double hearing syndrome, is a hearing disorder in which the same sound is perceived in different ways between the two ears in terms of intensity, timbre and tonality.

The inefficient connection that is generated between the auditory system and the neurological system means that the person exposed to one sound actually hears two, even at different times, unable to distinguish the source. Living with diplacusis is not easy. Let's explore in what forms it can occur, what are the triggering causes and the possibilities of treatment to preserve the quality of life.

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Types of diplacusis

Diplacusis can affect both ears or just one ear. We speak of bilateral diplacusis when the splitting of sound occurs in the two ear canals, while when the hearing loss concerns only one ear we speak of unilateral diplacusis. In both cases, the disorder can be temporary or permanent. Furthermore, based on the characteristics of the altered perception of sounds and noises, diplacusis can be divided into:

  • monauralis: the sound is perceived by the same ear as two different sounds;
  • binauralis: the sound is perceived differently between the two ears;
  • disharmonic: the sound is perceived with a different tone in one ear but clearly and exactly in the other;
  • echoica: the times of perception of the sound are different between the two ears causing an echo situation.


The causes of diplacusis

The causes of diplacusis can be different and doctors and scientists have not been able to clarify them all yet. The disorder is related to damage to the inner ear and can occur when the person already suffers from sensorineural or conductive hearing loss. Other causes of diplacusis, always related to ear damage, can be found in situations such as:

How to cure diplacusis?

As with any other ear disease, the possibilities of treating diplacusis are also linked to treating the underlying causes. For this reason, when the first symptoms appear, it is advisable to contact a specialized doctor who, through a series of tests, will investigate the source of the disorder:

  • If the cause of the diplacusis is transient such as an obstruction of the ear cavity or an infection, it will be enough to follow a specific treatment to return to hearing well.
  • If, on the other hand, the diplacusis is the consequence of a more serious hearing problem or has turned into a chronic and permanent condition, the possibilities for treatment are limited. In these situations, it is advisable to consult a hearing specialist to identify the most suitable hearing aid to counteract this alteration in the perception of sound and help those who suffer from it to distinguish the frequencies and their origin.

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