For individuals with severe hearing loss, a cochlear implant can restore hearing when traditional hearing aids don’t work.

The disk part of the device is surgically implanted into the inner ear, the larger part is worn on the outside of the ear. Unlike conventional hearing aids, cochlear implants restore hearing by bypassing the damaged parts of the ear and directly stimulating the nerves. Sounds are converted into electrical signals, which are picked up by the hearing nerve.

Cochlear implants are most often prescribed to people who are over one year of age and who will receive no benefit from conventional hearing aids. If your ENT professional believes you or your child may be a good candidate for a cochlear implant, he or she will either refer you to an implant clinic or may be able to perform the necessary procedure in-office. The otolaryngologist, ear nose and throat doctor, will examine the ear canal via a physical examination and x-ray and perform a series of hearing tests to determine why normal hearing is present and how extensive the damage is.

The surgery is typically performed at an outpatient clinic under local anesthesia. Several weeks after the surgery, your ENT professional will attach the outer components of the implant and teach you how to use and care for the device.

The degree to which cochlear implants benefit the wearer depend upon several factors including how long the person has been deaf, the number of surviving hearing nerve fibers, and how willing the person is to learn to hear. While it is rare that people do not experience any benefit from a cochlear implant, a time investment is necessary to learn to hear. Your ENT team can help you to understand just how much your hearing can expect to improve.

 


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