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Understanding Cochlear Implants


When hearing aids no longer help, there's another option.

Hearing loss is a medical disorder that affects nearly 36 million adults in the United States. It can occur at any stage of life and can be caused by a variety of factors such as a medical condition, exposure to loud noises, or the result of aging.

Some types of hearing loss can be surgically corrected. For others, appropriately fit and managed hearing aids can help reduce hearing loss. When hearing aids no longer help, a cochlear implant is usually the next step in the journey to better hearing.

How it works
A cochlear implant is a surgically implanted device which is placed during an outpatient surgical procedure performed by an otolaryngologist or ear, nose, and throat surgeon. During surgery, an internal electrode array with 22 tiny electrodes is implanted into the inner ear or cochlea.

Approximately four weeks after the initial surgery, the external sound processor is paired with the implant and activated by an audiologist. With a cochlear implant, the ear is then able to receive sound awareness via electrical stimulation rather than acoustic.

A cochlear implant does sound very different from our normal hearing and requires a lot of finetuning for each patient’s ear. Rehabilitation time can vary depending on a patient’s age at implantation, the duration of hearing loss, or other medical issues. Most patients are completely comfortable listening with a cochlear implant in one to two years after activation, but this can really vary. An audiologist works closely with patients to support their needs and move the process along as quickly as possible.

If you think you may have hearing loss, or your hearing aids are no longer helping, an ear, nose, and throat surgeon working alongside a certified audiologist can diagnose your condition and provide the best course of treatment, including medical management, hearing aids, or a cochlear implant. Contact our team here for more information. 

Ready for cochlear implants?

Hear from Lakeland Ear, Nose & Throat audiologist, Heidi Schmeltzer, AuD, CCC-A, as she discusses cochlear implants, a new solution to hearing concerns, when hearing aids are no longer an option.