Cochlear Implant Pros and Cons: What You Need to Know
Cochlear implants are implantable medical devices that allow wearers to hear and process audio information more clearly.
Although cochlear implants perform the same basic function as hearing aids, there are several key differences between how both assistive hearing technologies work.
How Cochlear Implants Work (Versus Hearing Aids)
Whereas hearing aids work by boosting sound signals, cochlear implants are used when the ear’s infrastructure is too damaged to receive audio information. If the vibrational hairs in the cochlea (i.e. inner ear) become injured or infected, they’re no longer able to send this information to the brain for sound processing.
Cochlear implants work by bypassing the damaged portion of the ear to ensure that audio signals from the outside world reach the brain:
- Each cochlear implant comes with an external microphone that captures sound and converts this information into a digital signal
- The converted digital signal is then sent along the auditory nerve via electronic impulses
- Once these impulses reach the brain, they’re interpreted as sound – allowing the user to hear more clearly
But before exploring cochlear implants as a treatment solution, it is important that you appreciate both the advantages and disadvantages of this assistive hearing technology.
What Are the “Cons” of Cochlear Implants?
Receiving cochlear implants is a fairly routine medical procedure, but surgery (of any kind) always carries certain medical risks. So it’s important you discuss these risks with your healthcare provider before moving forward.
Below are some additional considerations:
- Cochlear implants cannot fully restore hearing. They can only improve your ability to receive and process audio information.
- Although most cochlear implant wearers report some level of improvement, there are no guarantees. It’s possible that you might not receive any benefit from wearing them.
- Cochlear implants are covered by most insurance plans. But for those who lack health care coverage, they can be prohibitively expensive.
- Cochlear implants require ongoing maintenance. This is also true of hearing aids. Newer hearing aid models allow for easy customization by the user, cochlear implants must be fitted and configured by a licensed audiologist.
- Some cochlear implants come with waterproofing for recreational activities like swimming, but for high contact activities and sports, you may need to remove them.
Last but not least are the aesthetics.
Cochlear implants are visible medical devices that consist of two parts. The internal device is surgically inserted into the side of the user’s head (behind the ear). The external sound processor sit outside of the head and is roughly the size of a large hearing aid.
For many people with severe hearing loss, however, the benefits of cochlear implants far outweigh the downsides.
Let’s explore why that is.
What Are the “Pros” of Cochlear Implants?
For those who are deaf or profoundly hard of hearing, cochlear implants can help improve their ability to communicate with and enjoy the outside world.
In fact, wearing cochlear implants can be a life-changing experience for anyone who is consistently frustrated by:
- Social isolation
- Dropped conversations
Cochlear implants can also help you hear sounds that you’ve never heard before – from classical music to birdsong to morning alarm clocks.
Although all surgical procedures carry certain risks, the side effects of receiving and wearing cochlear implants are very mild. The most common complaints include temporary information, bleeding, and irritation – most of which clear up shortly after the procedure.
Unlike hearing aids, cochlear implants are covered by most personal and governmental insurance programs (including Medicaid and Medicare). So despite their high upfront cost, this assistive hearing technology is within easy financial reach of the nearly 100,000 cochlear implant wearers in the US.
Am I a Good Candidate for Cochlear Implants?
Now that you understand the pros and cons of cochlear implants, you may be wondering whether you’re a suitable candidate.
And at The Hearing Solution, we provide comprehensive support to help you make the best decision.
Our process begins with a 2-hour diagnostic evaluation to determine whether cochlear implants can help improve your hearing loss. Many audiologists conduct these tests in quiet, controlled environments. But for optimal results, we perform our screenings in settings that are designed to mimic the real world – complete with ambient noises, background conversations and even street sounds.
Based on the results of this exam, we can then determine the most appropriate treatment option. We may discover that hearing aids, coupled with audio training, are a better fit for your type of hearing loss.
This is true even if you’ve already worn hearing aids in the past – with mixed results. Again, many audiologists conduct their hearing evaluations in quiet booths. And this reduces the likelihood of receiving hearing aids that have been properly customized and fitted for you – the wearer.
What Happens If I Am a Good Candidate for Cochlear Implants?
If our comprehensive screening reveals that cochlear implants are right for you, we’ll help coordinate the procedure with one of the trusted surgeons in our local network.
- Some patients need cochlear implants in both ears
- Other only need a single cochlear implant in 1 ear
Either way, you should budget about 3 to 4 hours (per ear) for the procedure.
After the surgery is complete, our audiologists at The Hearing Solution will activate your cochlear implant(s) and handle all maintenance, customizations and follow-up visits thereafter.
Ready to Unlock a New World of Sound?
If you’re tired of waiting on the sidelines of life, cochlear implants may be able to help.
To find out for sure, schedule a consultation with The Hearing Solution today.
Interested in learning more? Attend one of our regular hearing solution events to learn more about our unique approach to hearing loss or give us a call at 916-646-2471.Contact Us Now