Cochlear Implants: What You Should Know

Cochlear implants treat severe to profound hearing loss in patients with sensorineural (inner ear-related) hearing loss where impairment can’t be treated with standard hearing aids. With a relatively minor two-hour surgery, most patients experience a tremendous positive impact on their quality of life.

How does it work?

A cochlear implant works differently than a hearing aid. Hearing aids amplify sounds so that a person with inner-ear damage can hear more clearly. A cochlear implant is surgically implanted into the inner ear. The device generates an electrical signal to stimulate the hearing nerve ending directly. This signal is sent to the brain. While a cochlear implant will not restore hearing loss to perfect levels, it can significantly improve an individual’s ability to hear. With time, most patients are able to converse over the phone without lip-reading.

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Who qualifies?

In order to determine whether you are a candidate for cochlear implants, you must meet a specified list of criteria. Testing is done by an audiologist with hearing aids in place. If you are experiencing severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss (the result of nerve damage to the inner ear) and cannot benefit from conventional hearing aids, you are a potential candidate for a cochlear implant.

Cochlear implants are covered by Medicare and most commercial insurance plans.

What are the benefits?

Cochlear implants are most helpful in patients with solid language and communication skills who experience hearing loss later in life. Younger children (typically between the ages of one and six) also benefit, since a cochlear implant exposes them to sounds during their formative learning years, while they are developing speech and language skills. Post-implantation therapy with an audiologist is a crucial component in the success of cochlear implants; learning to use them correctly takes patience, time and effort.

To learn more about cochlear implants, or to see if you are a candidate, call (916) 736-3399 to schedule a consultation with your ENT physician.

Posted in ENT