What Are Cochlear Implants, and How Are They Different from Hearing Aids?

by | Oct 15, 2022 | Hearing Aids, Patient Resources, Technology

We live in a time where technology moves fast! So, it’s no wonder that technology for hearing instruments would improve just as quickly. Although cochlear implants have been around for over 40 years, the recent developments are more impressive than ever. 

We’re always standing by to treat any level of hearing loss that the residents of Southern Houston have. This includes offering cochlear implants from our clinics. 

While a cochlear implant may not be the solution for everyone, it’s good to know that it is available to you and can now be recommended by one of our professional audiologists. 

Before getting cochlear implants, it’s vital to understand whether you’re a candidate and if they are the best option for your hearing condition. 

Cochlear Implants at a Glance

Generally, cochlear implants are for those with severe to profound hearing loss. A comprehensive hearing assessment is the only way to determine your hearing loss level.

A cochlear implant is a simple surgical procedure that implants an electrode in the inner ear just under the skin. It pairs with a sound processor and receiver that fits discreetly behind your ear.

The sound processor is placed behind the ear to process incoming sounds. It does this by digitizing the sound signals and then sending these electrical signals to the implanted electrode in the cochlea. This is then relayed directly to the brain for processing.

Cochlear will not cure deafness, but it will help people hear sounds again and process them. This is a huge step forward in preventing any cognitive decline that could occur from severe hearing loss.

Why Not Prescription Hearing Aids?

Cochlear implants require a short surgical procedure to implant the receiver just under your skin. It’s this component that makes it different from hearing aids. 

It can be more effective than prescription hearing aids because it bypasses the ear canal and transmits sounds as an electrical signal rather than just amplifying sound. 

Prescription hearing aids are more discrete these days and help those with severe hearing loss. However, cochlear is used when hearing aids can no longer provide an adequate solution.

For More Information And To Schedule Your Consultation, Check Our Our Cochlear Implant Information Page

Who Benefits Most from Cochlear Implants?

People who have suffered from hearing loss over the long term will be the best cochlear candidates. These are a last resort if hearing aids are not strong enough or have exhausted all the settings and technological advances. 

Due to the damage incurred throughout someone’s ear, a cochlear implant may be needed to turn the sound signals into electrical signals to be processed easier by the brain. 

Even the most advanced hearing aids still rely on hearing the signal they send; if your ear cannot do that, then cochlear might be your answer.

What Is the Cochlear Process Like?

A cochlear implant is done under a general anesthetic and can be completed in less than a day. In addition to this, a series of in-person visits for the few months following the surgery is required. 

We do this for two reasons:

  1. The sounds the brain hears are different from what the recipient is used to. It takes time working with an experienced professional to learn how to distinguish the differences.
  2. Activating the cochlear implant is done in tiny steps by an audiologist, building from soft sounds up to familiar sounds over time. Unlike prescription hearing aids, there is a slight learning curve to accessing the full benefits of cochlear implants. 

The implanted electrode should last a lifetime. Any updates that need to be made can be done via the external components behind your ear.

What Is the First Step to Getting Cochlear?

We always start with a comprehensive hearing assessment done by one of our doctors of audiology. This painless and non-invasive test will give us a behind-the-scenes look at how you hear, where the problem is, and the best course of action.

Once this data is collected, we can determine if cochlear is the right option for you or if you would benefit from another solution such as hearing aids.

If you have further questions, please call us anytime, as we always stand by to lend a helping hand.

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Dr. Scott Marquardt - Doctor of Audiology & CEO of Clarity Hearing

Scott Marquardt is the owner of Clarity Hearing and a highly skilled audiologist who has been in practice for over 20 years. Dr. Marquardt earned a master’s degree in audiology from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, and a doctorate from A.T. Still University. He is a member of the American Speech Language Hearing Association and a fellow of the American Academy of Audiology. He and the team offer comprehensive hearing healthcare services and specialize in the care of tinnitus, imbalance, and auditory processing disorders.

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