Publish 7 September 2021
Find The Beat
People say you sing off key and dance like you have two left feet. Could it be because you hear music differently than everyone else? Of course, that’s it. If not, it makes a good excuse for your lack of rhythm.
Diplacusis is a sudden-onset hearing disorder, also known as Inter Aural Pitch Difference (IPD). It is, without a doubt, a frustrating ailment. With diplacusis, an individual hears the same auditory stimulus in different tones across both ears. If you have this condition, you hear the correct sound with one ear. But in the other there is a difference of pitch, tone, or timing.
Doctors categorize two types of diplacusis by how someone perceives the difference in sounds:
- Diplacusis harmonica. This causes one ear to hear sounds at a somewhat different pitch or tone compared to the other ear.
- Diplacusis echoica. People with this variant perceive sounds like echoes, as one ear hears a sound faster than the other ear does.
Among the two rare types, diplacusis harmonica is more common. In a clinical study, tinnitus was most common, followed by hyperacusis and diplacusis.
Causes For Diplacusis
Several things can cause diplacusis. This includes a sudden exposure to a loud noise, ear infection or even intense trauma to the head. Clogged sinuses, excessive amounts of earwax and, in some cases, tumors can also lead to diplacusis.
Musicians are keen to notice hearing aberrations. For a prompt diagnosis, consult with an audiologist, otolaryngologist, or another healthcare professional if you experience symptoms of diplacusis. For those who aren’t familiar, otolaryngology is a medical subspeciality that focuses on ears, nose and throat.
Treatments For Diplacusis
Sometimes diplacusis goes away after a while, with your hearing returning to normal. These are usually cases caused by an obstruction. As mentioned, this include things like excessive earwax, clogged sinuses, or tumors. Following surgery to remove a tumor, hearing progressively recovers.
In cases where obstruction isn’t the cause of diplacusis, and it is due to sensorineural hearing loss, effects can be permanent. Fortunately, there are several alternative treatments. Patients with diplacusis have shown improvement with either hearing aids or cochlear implants. Alongside these, auditory rehabilitation can also be helpful. This trains your brain to adapt to the condition.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for diplacusis. The treatment for each case varies depending on individual conditions. You and your doctor can form an appropriate plan of action. For the best options, have both left feet take your ears to a qualified professional as quickly as possible.
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- Di Stadio A, Dipietro L, Ricci G, et al. Hearing Loss, Tinnitus, Hyperacusis, and Diplacusis in Professional Musicians: A Systematic Review. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018;15(10):2120. Published 2018 Sep 26. doi:10.3390/ijerph15102120
- Albers GD, Wilson WH. Diplacusis: I. Historical Review. Arch Otolaryngol. 1968;87(6):601–603. doi:10.1001/archotol.1968.00760060603009
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