If you are partially deaf, not able to hear properly, a cochlear implant may help you hear and respond better. It is different from a hearing aid, which makes sounds louder. It’s a tiny device which an ENT puts in the ear via surgery. It sends impulses directly to your auditory nerve, which carries sound signals to your brain.
A cochlear implant may help you track sounds better. Most people with extreme hearing loss can understand speech in person or over the phone better with the help of cochlear implants. Also they can pick up on speech in noisy places better than they did with hearing aids.
Functionality of a cochlear implant
Children and adults with sensorineural hearing loss (a form of hearing loss in which the root cause lies in the inner ear or sensory organ called cochlea) are the best candidates for cochlear implants. In sensorineural hearing loss, minute hair cells in a part of your cochlea are damaged. These minute hair cells carry the sound to the brain through the auditory nerve. When these cells get damaged, the sound is unable to reach the nerve. A cochlear implant skips the damaged hair cells and sends signals to the auditory nerve directly.
A cochlear implant has two parts. One is called the receiver-stimulator, which is placed in the ear through surgery. The other part is called the speech processor, which you wear behind your ear like a hearing aid.
What are the benefits of a cochlear implant?
The decision to go for cochlear implants can be life-altering if you have serious hearing loss. But the results vary from person to person. Some people may find it absolutely beneficial while others may feel differently. Some of the benefits include:
What are the disadvantages of a cochlear implant?
- You may be able to hear at near normal levels.
- You may be able to understand speech better. You may not have to use lip reading.
- It’s easy to strike a conversation and listen to music.
- It may be easier for you to control your voice for others to understand you better.
- You can pick up soft, medium and loud sounds.
Who are the right candidates for cochlear implants?
- Nerve damage
- Tinnitus- Ringing in your ears
- The device does not function as it should, meaning you need replacement
- An infection of the membranes around the brain called Meningitis
Cochlear implants work well for those who have:
- Severe hearing loss in both the ears
- Gained nothing from hearing aids
- Been cleared for surgery by the ENT specialist
- A strong will to hear better
- The knowledge of the pros and cons of cochlear implants
Moreover, cochlear implants are best suited to people who have lost their hearing recently, as well as those who’ve already used a hearing aid
successfully. Remember, when you opt for cochlear implants, proper counselling will help you know the device better and what to expect from it. A rehabilitation program is also necessary after you are done with cochlear implants.