What is a cochlear implant?

What is a cochlear implant?

A cochlear implant is an electronic medical device designed to provide a sense of sound to individuals with severe hearing loss or deafness. Unlike hearing aids that simply amplify sound, cochlear implants work by bypassing the damaged portions of the ear and directly stimulating the auditory nerve. The device has two main components: an external part that sits behind the ear, and an internal part that is surgically implanted under the skin. The external component consists of a microphone, speech processor, and transmitter. The microphone captures sounds, which are then converted into digital signals by the speech processor. These signals are transmitted to the internal component, which includes a receiver and an array of electrodes. The receiver converts the signals into electrical impulses, which the electrodes, placed in the cochlea, use to stimulate the auditory nerve. These impulses are then sent to the brain where they are interpreted as sound. Cochlear implants don’t restore normal hearing but create a representation of sounds, which helps in understanding speech and environmental noises. The implantation involves surgery and is followed by extensive therapy to assist the user in adapting to and interpreting the new auditory information.


If you’re experiencing severe hearing difficulties, there are several signs that may indicate cochlear implants could be a beneficial option for you:

  1. Inadequate Benefit from Hearing Aids: If your hearing aids are no longer effective despite proper fitting and adjustments, or if you still have trouble understanding speech with them, cochlear implants might be an alternative.
  2. Difficulty Understanding Speech: Struggling to understand speech, especially in noisy environments or over the phone, even with the use of hearing aids, might indicate that cochlear implants could be more beneficial.
  3. Social Withdrawal: If hearing difficulties are causing you to avoid social situations due to the inability to engage in conversations or understand what is being said, cochlear implants might improve your ability to communicate and participate in social activities.
  4. Dependence on Lip Reading: If you find yourself heavily reliant on lip-reading to understand speech, this could be a sign that your hearing loss is severe enough to consider cochlear implants.
  5. High Volume Dependence: If you need to turn the volume on the TV or radio extremely high in order to hear, and this is still not sufficient for understanding, cochlear implants might be an option.
  6. Tinnitus: Sometimes, severe hearing loss is accompanied by tinnitus (ringing in the ears). If the tinnitus is affecting your quality of life and hearing aids are not providing relief, cochlear implants might be a solution.
  7. Progressive Hearing Loss: If your hearing loss is progressively getting worse, and you are losing the ability to hear even loud sounds, it might be time to consider cochlear implants.
  8. Poor Sound Discrimination: If you can hear sounds but have difficulty distinguishing between them or understanding their quality, cochlear implants might help improve sound discrimination.
  9. Difficulty Hearing High-Pitched Sounds: Trouble hearing high-pitched sounds like children’s voices or doorbells, despite using hearing aids, can be an indicator for considering cochlear implants.
  10. Feedback from Hearing Healthcare Professional: If your audiologist or ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist suggests that cochlear implants may be beneficial based on your hearing tests and evaluations, this is a strong indicator that you should consider the option.

It’s important to consult with an audiologist or ENT specialist to thoroughly evaluate your hearing and discuss if cochlear implants are the right option for you. They can provide insight into the benefits, risks, and what to expect from the implantation process and post-surgery rehabilitation.

use of cochlear implant - Melody Audiology

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