Cochlear implants are an implantable medical device that allows its wearers to hear and process audio information more clearly. And, although cochlear implants perform the same functions as a hearing aid, there is some key difference between how each of them works. 

How cochlear implants work compared to hearing aids

Hearing aids work to boost sound signals, cochlear implants are used when the infrastructure of the ear is too damaged to receive audio information so, hearing aids wouldn’t work. When the vibrational hairs in the cochlea become infected or injured, they are no longer able to process this information to the brain. 

A cochlear implant is designed to bypass the damaged area of the ear, it then enables audio signals from the outside world to be sent to the brain. 

A cochlear implant comes with an external microphone that captures the sounds and then converts them into a digital sound. The digital sounds are then sent along the auditory nerve by electronic impulses. When these impulses reach the brain, the brain interprets them as sound, this allows the user to hear more clearly. 

Before you consider cochlear implants as a treatment solution for hearing loss, it is important for you to be aware of both the disadvantages and advantages of this hearing technology. 

What are the cons of cochlear implants? 

Having cochlear implants is quite a routine medical procedure, however, surgery of any kind is always going to carry certain medical risks. This makes it important for you to discuss these in-depth with audiologists beforehand. 

Some other considerations to think about include: 

  • Cochlear implants don’t have the capability to fully restore hearing. They work to improve it only by increasing your ability to receive and process audio information.
  • You might not get the benefit from them at all, most cochlear implant wearers report some improvement, however, some don’t get any improvement from wearing them.  
  • They require ongoing maintenance. This is also the case with hearing aids
  • Cochlear implants must always be configured and fitted by a licensed audiologist while newer models of hearing aids allow for easier customization by the wearer.  
  • You will need to remove them for high contact sports or activities, but you can wear them swimming if the ones you are using are waterproof. 

For most, the benefits of wearing a cochlear implant majorly outweigh the cons.

What are the pros of cochlear implants? 

For those who are profoundly hard of hearing or deaf, cochlear implants are fantastic for improving their ability to communicate and enjoy the world. Most cochlear implant wears will tell you that they are a life-changing experience, especially for anyone who is always frustrated by: 

  • Misunderstanding 
  • Drops in conversation
  • Social isolation 

Cochlear implants can also aid you with hearing sounds like classical music, the birds singing and the morning alarm clock, and although they may seem small, they can mean a lot to someone who hasn’t heard them before. 

Yes, all surgical procedures have certain risks, any side effect you may experience from receiving and wearing a cochlear implant is minimal. The most common complaints include slight irritation, temporary information and bleeding. Most of these clear up shortly after the procedure is completed. 

Cochlear implants are usually covered by most governmental and personal insurance programs while hearing aids may not be. This means this technology is within easy financial reach for anyone who needs it. 

Am I a good candidate? 

Now that you have seen the pros and cons of cochlear implants, you might be questioning whether you are a suitable candidate. Speaking with your audiologist is the best way to find this out. You will most likely go through a diagnostic evaluation to determine is cochlear implants would be able to help your hearing loss. Audiologists will conduct these tests in a quiet, controlled environment. But you will also have tests that are carried out in settings that are designed to mimic the real world. These include background conversations, street sounds and ambient noises. 

Depending on the results of this examination, an audiologist will be able to decide on the appropriate treatment for any hearing loss that you do have. It may be that hearing aids are more suited to helping you over cochlear implants. This may even be the case if you haven’t got on with hearing aids in the past, technology is forever changing and improving. 

If you’re interested in learning more, please don’t hesitate to contact Affordable Audiology & Hearing Service at (920) 267-5220.