Its function is to gather electrical signals from sound vibrations and transmit them to your auditory nerve (or hearing nerve).
What is a cochlear implant?
- A cochlear implant is a small, complex electronic device that can help to provide a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hard-of-hearing.
- Some adults who have lost all or most of their hearing later in life can also benefit from cochlear implants.
- A cochlear implant may help you get back a sense of sound.
How does a cochlear implant work?
- A cochlear implant is very different from a hearing aid.
- Hearing aids amplify sounds so they may be detected by damaged ears.
- Cochlear implants bypass damaged portions of the ear and directly stimulate the auditory nerve.
Cochlear implants may help provide hearing in patients who are deaf because of damage to sensory hair cells in their cochlea’s.
Who gets cochlear implants?
- Adults who are deaf or severely hard-of-hearing can be fitted for cochlear implants.
What are the advantages of a cochlear implant?
For people with serious hearing problems, cochlear implants can be life changing. But the results aren’t the same for everyone. Some people benefit more than others.
- You may be able to hear speech at a nearly normal level.
- You may be able to understand speech without lip reading.
- It’s easier to talk on the phone and hear the TV.
- You may be able to hear music better than before.
- You can pick up on different types of sounds, including soft, medium, and loud ones.
- You can better control your own voice so that it’s easier for others to understand you.
What are the disadvantages and risks?
- Nerve damage that causes weakness or paralysis in your face
- Dizziness or balance problems
- Loss of the hearing you have left
- Ringing in your ears, called tinnitus
- Leaks of the fluid around the brain
- The device doesn’t work or gets infected, which may mean you’ll have to remove and replace the implant
- Meningitis, an infection of the membranes around the brain. It’s a rare but serious complication. Children and people with abnormally formed inner ears seem to be at higher risk. The FDA and CDC recommend vaccines for anyone who gets a cochlear implant to lower their risk for the disease.