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What are the Pros and Cons of Cochlear Implants

a smiling audiologist is ready to treat her hearing loss patients

While cochlear implants perform the same primary function as hearing aids, they have several differences, and of course, there are pros and cons to them. Unlike hearing aids, which boost sound signals in your ear to help your hearing, cochlear implants are used if your ear’s infrastructure is too damaged to receive audio information. 

The cochlea, which is the inner ear, has vibrational hairs and if these vibrational hairs become injured or infected, they can no longer send the audio information to the brain for it to process the sound. This is where cochlear implants come in. These implants bypass the damaged portion of the ear to make sure that audio signals from the outside world are able to get to your brain.

Cochlear implants come with an external microphone that captures sound and converts this information into a digital signal. This digital signal is then sent along the auditory nerve via electronic impulses which, when they reach your brain, are interpreted as sound – allowing you to hear more clearly. 

While the idea of cochlea implants is excellent, before you decide to have cochlear implants, you should be aware of both the advantages and disadvantages that they come with.

What are the cons of cochlear implants?

Cochlear implants are an assistive hearing technology, but they do require surgery. It is a fairly routine medical procedure. However, any kind of surgery always carries medical risks. The side effects of the surgery may include bleeding, swelling and ringing in the ear, which is also known as tinnitus. 

You might experience dizziness, a dry mouth, taste changes, facial paralysis, balance issues and can be at risk of meningitis. Just like with any surgery, there is a risk of infection, in which case you may have to have another surgery to remove the implant or to fix a defective implant. However, your specific risks will depend on your overall health and medical conditions.

If this is something you’re considering, then you need to discuss these risks with your audiologist before you go ahead.

It is important to be aware that cochlear implants cannot fully restore your hearing. They will only improve your ability to receive and process audio information and there are also no guarantees. It is possible that you might not receive any benefits from wearing them.

If you choose to go with cochlear implants, just like with hearing aids, they will also require ongoing maintenance. 

You also need to know that while some cochlear implants come with waterproofing for recreational activities like swimming, but high contact activities and sports, you may need to remove them.

Another thing that some people view as a negative is the fact that cochlear implants are visible in the ear. The medical devices consist of two parts; there is the internal device that is surgically inserted into the side of your head, so basically behind the ear. Then you have the external sound processor sits outside of your head and is roughly the size of a large hearing aid.

As previously mentioned, cochlear implants do not restore normal hearing and for some people, they might not help at all. However, for many people who experience severe hearing loss, the pros of cochlear implants far outweigh the cons. So, what are they?

What are the pros of cochlear implants?

If you experience severe hearing loss, a cochlear implant could significantly improve your quality of life. Implants can enable you to hear different sounds. It could be sounds that you might have never heard before, from classical music to birds singing, morning alarm clocks and footsteps. A cochlear implant can enable you to understand speech without lip-reading, hear music, hear voices on the phone and watch the television without subtitles. For babies and toddlers, cochlear implants could help them learn how to talk.

For people who are deaf or profoundly hard of hearing, cochlear implants are still worth looking into as they can help improve your ability to communicate and to enjoy the outside world. They can still give a life-changing experience for anyone who is consistently frustrated by social isolation, misunderstandings and dropped conversations.

As mentioned, everyone knows that any surgical procedure carries certain risks. However, the side effects of receiving and wearing cochlear implants are usually very mild. The most common side effects that people complain about are temporary information, bleeding, irritation and most of these complaints clear up shortly after the procedure.

To learn more about House of Hearing call today at 801-221-1220.