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Diplacusis is generally a symptom of unilateral or bilateral hearing loss. Onset is usually sudden and can be caused by exposure to loud noise, an ear infection, an obstruction in the ear canal (such as compacted earwax), or head trauma. People who develop diplacusis may also notice tinnitus in the affected ear.

Diplacusis in brief

Diplacusis comes from the Greek words “diplous” and “akousis”, meaning double hearing. It causes the sufferer to perceive a dissonance in the pitch or timing of a sound from one ear to the other.

Diplacusis is generally a symptom of sensorineural hearing loss, and there are different types of the condition:

  • Diplacusis binauralis is the most common type and occurs when a person hears the same sound differently in each ear.  A related sub-set of this condition is diplacusis dysharmonica, which is when a sound is heard correctly in one ear, but at a different pitch in the other. These two types of diplacusis are also sometimes known as ‘interaural pitch difference’.
  • Diplacusis echoica is an impairment in which the sufferer hears a sound repeated or echoed in the affected ear.
  • Diplacusis monauralis is when a single sound is heard as two distinct sounds in the same ear.

Treatment for Diplacusis

Treatment for diplacusis varies from case to case. Diplacusis caused by an obstruction or an infection in the ear may resolve itself once the obstruction is removed or the ear infection clears up, while diplacusis caused by hearing loss is more likely to be permanent, and can potentially be treated with hearing aids.

It’s very important to correctly diagnose the type of diplacusis so that the appropriate treatment can be applied. Diagnosis for diplacusis should be done with a full hearing test or exam by a trained hearing clinician.

Further Topics

How loud is too loud? Noise-induced Hearing Loss
Hearing protection - a health investment