Millions of Americans are affected by hearing loss. Many find that hearing aids help to improve their ability to hear. People with mild to moderate hearing loss can often find great success with hearing aid devices.
However, in cases where your hearing loss is more severe, hearing aid devices may not be the most appropriate option. In this case, a cochlear implant may be recommended.
Although we do not offer cochlear implants, we wanted to explain to you what they are and how they can help people with hearing loss. Cochlear implants and hearing aids both help you hear, but they work in very different ways. Hearing aids amplify sounds so that they can be heard by ears that have damage.
Cochlear implants directly stimulate the auditory nerve. They do not try to amplify sounds for the damaged portions of the ear. But when is a cochlear implant necessary? Read on to find out more.
What is a Cochlear Implant?
A cochlear implant is a device designed for those who are profoundly deaf or severely hard-of-hearing and helps provide a sense of sound. Cochlear implants have an external portion that sits behind the ear and a component that is surgically placed under the skin. It provides a useful representation of sounds and can help the user understand speech; but it does not restore normal hearing.
Cochlear implants include:
- A microphone that picks up environmental sounds.
- A speech processor that selects sounds picked up by the microphone and arranges them.
- A transmitter and receiver/stimulator that receives signals from the speech processor and then converts them into electric impulses.
- An electrode array which collects the impulses from the stimulator and sends them to different regions of the auditory nerve.
Cochlear implants must be surgically attached by a physician, usually an Ear-Nose-Throat specialist and then calibrated, often by an audiologist.
When is a Cochlear Implant Necessary?
As we mentioned above, people with mild to moderate hearing loss can benefit from hearing aid devices. However, for those people with severe to profound hearing loss, cochlear implants can help their listening experience.
A cochlear implant bypasses the damaged areas of the cochlea. It may offer improved hearing abilities for speech understanding and the perception of music and environmental sounds.
How Common are Cochlear Implants?
This is a commonly asked question about cochlear implants, and one that’s difficult to answer. Cochlear implant manufacturers do not release the data on how many people are using the devices. Data available from the NIDCD is the most recently available data.
“As of December 2019, approximately 736,900 registered devices have been implanted worldwide. In the United States, roughly 118,100 devices have been implanted in adults and 65,000 in children. (Estimates provided by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration [FDA], as reported by cochlear implant manufacturers approved for the U.S. market.)”
Children with severe to profound hearing loss can benefit from cochlear implants. They can actually play a significant role in their development. They can allow children to experience the sensory stimulation and learning that hearing facilitates.
Get Your Hearing Checked at Hearing Services of Delaware
Do you have more questions about cochlear implants? Don’t hesitate to get in touch. The team at Hearing Services of Delaware are here to help! Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our certified hearing care professionals.