There exist a range of corrective treatments for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. Of these solutions, hearing aids are arguably the most popular. They work by amplifying sound, allowing the wearer to hear more clearly. And this assistive technology is best suited for those with mild to moderate hearing loss.
But in cases where the inner ear’s infrastructure is damaged, simple sound amplification is not enough. You may have to explore more aggressive treatment options – like cochlear implants.
What Are Cochlear Implants?
The cochlea is the “sensory organ” of the inner ear responsible for hearing. Its unique spiral shape is reminiscent of a snail shell, (which is how it gets its name – Greek word for “snail” is kokhliās).
Vibrational hairs located inside the cochlea convert the mechanical energy of sound waves to electrical impulses and ultimately send to the brain for processing – this is how we are able to hear.
Whether from an infection, aging, medications, or prolonged exposure to loud noises, damage to these vibrational hairs makes it impossible for audio signals to reach the brain, resulting in severe to total hearing loss.
Cue the cochlear implant – a medical device that, when surgically implanted in the head, allows the wearer to receive and process auditory information in a better way so that speech is more clear than with a hearing aid.
How Do Cochlear Implants Work?
Cochlear implants perform the same basic function as the inner ear’s cochlea. But instead of using vibrational hairs to send information to the brain, cochlear implants bypass the damaged portion of the inner ear completely.
Instead, each implant receives audio information through an external microphone before converting it into a digital signal. This signal is then transmitted across the scalp to the internal implant as electrical impulses and stimulate the auditory nerve directly – where it finally reaches the brain for sound processing.
Note that the audio fidelity will never reach 100%. But for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, cochlear implants make it possible to receive, process and understand a much broader spectrum of sounds.
Do I Need Cochlear Implants?
Not everyone is a good candidate for cochlear implants. And before moving forward, it’s important that you’re aware of the pros and cons of this corrective hearing solution.
But the best way to determine whether cochlear implants are right for you is through comprehensive testing. At The Hearing Solution, for example, we run all of our patients through a 2-hour diagnostic evaluation that allows us to examine both the:
- Type of hearing loss
- Health of the cochlea
- Performance of your hearing aids
If cochlear implants are necessary, we will design a treatment solution including:
- Receiving the procedure from one of the expert surgeons on our team
- Follow-up counseling and auditory training at our Sacramento clinic
Depending on the results of this screening, we may determine that hearing aids are a more suitable option and you do not need surgery. In fact, this is often the case – especially among patients who were previously outfitted with hearing aids that weren’t properly customized and fitted for the wearer.
This is why comprehensive screening is so important. The most appropriate hearing loss treatment must be carefully tailored for the individual.
Have Your Hearing Tested Today
If you'd like to learn whether cochlear implants can help you hear the world more clearly, schedule a cochlear implant evaluation with us today.