A cochlear implant is a surgically implanted device that bypasses damaged hair cells in the ear and provides electrical stimulation directly to the auditory nerve, giving patients who are severely hearing impaired or profoundly deaf the ability to hear. It is most beneficial for those who cannot be helped with traditional hearing aids.
Traditional cochlear implant candidates have moderate to profound hearing loss in both ears. Recently, individuals with single-sided deafness have received cochlear implants in their deaf ear and achieved success. Candidacy is reviewed on a case-by-case basis with the cochlear implant team.
A cochlear implant works differently than a hearing aid. Hearing aids amplify sounds so that a person with nerve damage can hear more clearly. Cochlear implants generate an electrical signal that the brain interprets as sound. The implant has an external portion that sits behind the ear, consisting of a microphone, a speech processor and a transmitter. These work in tandem with the internal components, a receiver and array of electrodes, which have been implanted in the ear.
The microphone picks up sound and sends it to the speech processor, which converts these signals to digital impulses and sends them to the transmitter. The transmitter wirelessly sends the processed audio signals to the internal receiver. From there, they are transmitted directly to the brain through the auditory nerve.
While a cochlear implant does not cure deafness or restore hearing loss, it does allow an individual to perceive sound and can help them communicate again.
If you experience moderate to profound sensorineural hearing loss (the result of nerve damage to the inner ear) or have profound hearing loss in one ear and can’t benefit from conventional hearing aids, you could be a prime candidate for cochlear implantation.
Signs That Hearing Aids May Not Be Enough
With hearing aids, do you:
• Have difficulty hearing conversations, especially with background noise?
• Often ask people to repeat themselves?
• Often misunderstand what people say?
• Have trouble hearing on the telephone?
• Turn up the volume on the TV louder than others in the room prefer?
• Feel people often mumble when they talk?
• Struggle to hear sounds of nature such as birds chirping or rain falling?
• Find yourself agreeing, smiling or nodding during conversations when you’re not sure what’s been said?
• Regularly withdraw from conversations because it’s too difficult to hear?
• Read lips to understand what people are saying?
Great Lakes ENT Specialists are happy to offer cochlear implant services in our Petoskey and Alpena offices.
Call Great Lakes ENT Specialists at (231) 489-8151 for more information or to schedule an appointment.