Cochlear Implants vs. Hearing Aids

People living with hearing loss make use of hearing aids in order to hear better. In some cases, cochlear implants may also be an appropriate intervention for those with hearing loss, particularly those who are deaf. For those who have been diagnosed with sensorineural hearing loss, both hearing aids and cochlear implants can be effective.

In order to figure out which type of hearing loss intervention is the best for your needs, doing some research and getting your hearing checked by a qualified audiologist can get you started on the journey to better hearing.

What is a Hearing Aid?

Hearing aids are typically the first hearing intervention used for those with hearing loss, and as such is the most common aid that one will see in individuals living with hearing problems. In general, a hearing aid is a device that changes and amplifies sounds for the wearer by sending amplified sound directly into the inner ear, so that individuals can better understand important sounds while lessening the impact of background noise.

Basically, they’re small electronic devices that go into your ear, and are removable should you choose to do so.

Nowadays, there are different types of hearing aids available for those with minor to moderate hearing loss. Hearing aids can address hearing impairments whether it is conductive or sensorineural. Because of its versatility, it can be a more affordable option to address hearing loss in individuals. Whether this hearing loss is a result of illness, injury, or ageing, there are hearing aids that are placed behind the ear, or manually situated inside the ear canal to aid with hearing, if the hearing loss is diagnosed to be mild or profound.

What is the hearing aid process?

Your audiologist will conduct several hearing tests to determine the severity of your hearing loss and which device would be best for you. They will give you actionable goals to better your listening and communication.

After this, you’ll have a hearing aid fitting appointment. There, you’ll be shown and explained the ins and outs of the device and have them placed in or on your ear to determine whether it’s comfortable for you. You’ll also be guided through how to care for your hearing aid, and discuss any maintenance you may have to have done over time, as well as how to put it into and take it out of your ear.

What is a Cochlear Implant?

Cochlear implants are complex devices that aid those with extreme hearing issues, or are deaf. It must be surgically placed, and has to be done so by a medical professional. There are two main parts to a cochlear implant: the internal and external components.

The internal is, as expected, located internally, underneath the skin behind the ear. It contains a receiver along with one or multiple electrode arrays which are implanted much deeper inside the inner ear.

The external part of a cochlear implant includes a transmitter, speech processor, and a microphone. The internal and external parts of a cochlear implant are connected with a strong magnet.

Cochlear implants work by transforming the sounds that the sound processor gathers into electric signals, passing it through the transmitter, and into the receiver, and then to the implant that has been placed deep within the inner ear. These signals are then sent to the brain, where it is registered as sound.

Cochlear implants are typically used for those born without hearing ability, especially since the early implantation of this device can actually help children who are hard of hearing or deaf to learn how to speak. However, cochlear implants are also an option for those who have tried hearing aids, and whose sensorineural hearing loss is extreme so that the average hearing aid cannot meet their requirements. It is important to note that cochlear implants are not necessary for those who are experiencing mild hearing loss, as the amount of hearing aids available on the market, as well as the surgical cost and recovery period of installing the implant within the ear, is a significant investment and may not be a suitable solution for everyone.

What is the Cochlear Implant process?

As getting a Cochlear Implant is a surgical procedure, the process to getting one is much more in depth to that of a hearing aid. It generally involves receiving audiological and psychological evaluations and different medical exams and tests to ensure Cochlear Implants are an ideal option.

The internal component of the implant is placed first and, four to six weeks after that surgery, the external component is fitted and activated.

Which is better?

Qualified audiologists who have diagnosed hearing loss usually look to hearing aids Perth as the first approach to signs of hearing loss. However, this can vary depending on the level of hearing loss that the client has. It generally takes about two weeks or less to adjust to hearing aids, with little to no risk, as well as no minimum or maximum age requirement.

With extreme hearing loss, cochlear implants may be suitable in order to increase quality of life, but it’s important to consult with an audiologist to see if this is the appropriate treatment plan for you. It can take about 6 to 12 months, or more, to adapt to a cochlear implant, and surgery is required to implant the device within the ear.

There is a low to moderate risk due to the requirement of surgery, but there is no minimum or maximum age requirement. However, because it is more suitable for profound hearing loss and can be an expensive procedure, it may be worthwhile to explore other treatment options to find appropriate hearing aids beforehand.

Hearing aids and cochlear implants were created in order to provide appropriate hearing loss interventions for those suffering with hearing loss. In essence, hearing aids are best suited for those with less severe hearing loss, as well as fair speech understanding, and do not require surgery. Cochlear implants, on the other hand, require surgery, and can be the better hearing loss intervention for those with severe hearing issues and poor speech understanding.

According to Art of Hearing Audiologists, the best way to determine whether a hearing aid or cochlear implant is right for you is to consult with your audiologist or hearing specialist.