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Cochlear Implants vs Hearing Aids

Hearing loss is a significant issue facing over 37 million Americans.  Hearing loss impacts interaction with people and can lead to frustration, isolation, and depression. Patients with hearing loss have several amazing treatment options to improve their quality of life. Depending on the degree of hearing loss, some patients are candidates for hearing aid amplification.  Patients with more significant hearing loss may be a candidate for a cochlear implant.  Let’s learn more about cochlear implants vs hearing aids and determine if you may be a candidate: what’s the difference?

Who Is a Candidate for Hearing Aids?

Hearing aids are beneficial for those with mild to severe hearing loss. These small devices amplify sound and improve your hearing in many environments and allow you to distinguish voices and sounds. They can be worn in the ear or behind the ear.

Doctor fitting a hearing aid.

What Are Hearing Aids?

Hearing aids consist of a microphone, an amplifier, and a receiver. An experienced audiologist, like you will find at the  Michigan Ear Institute, will guide you on the type of hearing aid best suited for you, your lifestyle, and your degree of hearing loss. 

Styles of hearing aids include the following:

  • Behind the ear (BTE)
  • Receiver in the ear (RIC)
  • In the ear (ITE)
  • Completely in the ear canal (CIC)

Hearing aids today are digital. They transform sound waves into digital signals and replicate the original sound precisely. Utilizing a computerized chip, they evaluate the surrounding environment to determine which sounds (such as speech) need to be amplified and which sounds (background noise) can be suppressed to improve your hearing. 

Best Candidates for a Cochlear Implant

Cochlear implants have revolutionized the ability to care for people with hearing loss and are best suited for those with more severe hearing loss in one ear or both ears. Patients who struggle with their hearing despite hearing aids may be suitable candidates. These implants work by stimulating the hearing nerve endings directly and bypass the structures of the inner ear that are causing  hearing loss. Cochlear implants can help those with severe hearing loss who cannot understand speech even with the most powerful hearing aids. They can help people who have inner ear damage and who will not be helped with a hearing aid.

What Are Cochlear Implants?

Cochlear implants deliver sound signals to the auditory nerve endings. The sound processor sits behind the ear, and a receiver is implanted under the skin behind the air. The receiver sends the signals to electrodes implanted in the cochlea (inner ear). The brain then interprets the signals as sounds. 

People with cochlear implants need aural rehabilitation to learn how to interpret the signals and the brain takes time to adapt to hearing and understanding speech. Success with cochlear implants is impressive.

What Are the Benefits of Cochlear Implants?

Advantages of cochlear implants include the following:

  • Individuals can hear speech without needing visual clues.
  • There is recognition of environmental sounds.
  • Patients can listen in a noisy environment.
  • Individuals have the ability to find sounds and where they are coming from.
  • Patients can hear TV programs, music, and telephone conversations.

Individual results with cochlear implantation vary depending on the duration of hearing loss, age of the patient, and cause of hearing loss. Our audiologists can talk to you about reasonable expectations for your specific situation during a cochlear implant evaluation.

Contact the experienced audiologists at Michigan Ear Institute if you would like a hearing assessment to discover which type of hearing device might be right for you. Call (248) 865-4444 to schedule an appointment today.

We can’t wait to hear from you!

Contact Michigan Ear Institute today!