For people with severe hearing loss, everyday tasks can be a struggle. Watching TV, talking on the phone, or even having a face-to-face conversation can be difficult, and people with hearing loss are proven to be more likely to suffer depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues as a result. If you suffer from inner ear damage or other hearing-loss-related conditions, you may be eligible to receive a cochlear implant to help improve your quality of life and change the way you hear the world around you.
A cochlear implant is a device that sends sound signals directly to the cochlea, or organ of hearing. Unlike traditional hearing aids, cochlear implants do not simply amplify sound, but they also help to improve one’s ability to understand words.
All cochlear implants are made up of two main parts: an implanted receiver and an external transmitter. The implanted receiver includes an intracochlear electrode array that converts sounds into electrical signals. The external transmitter consists of a microphone, a sound processor, and a transmitter system.
Using a unique sound processor, the cochlear implant filters sound through the external transmitter located behind the ear. The transmitter sends signals to the implanted receiver, which directs the sound waves to the cochlea, stimulating the auditory nerve. The auditory nerve picks up these sound waves and sends appropriate electrical signals to the brain. The result is an improved ability to understand words that a hearing aid cannot provide.
Regardless of the manufacturer, the process for inserting a cochlear implant is standardized. It is a straight-forward, well-tolerated procedure that is performed on an outpatient basis.
Patients are put under general anesthesia for implantation. Your surgeon will make a small incision to expose the bone behind the ear and gain access to the organ of hearing. The internal electrode is placed within the cochlea and the receiver is secured to the bone. The incision is then closed with dissolvable sutures and a special head dressing is placed.
After about three weeks, the external device can be connected to the implant, programmed, and activated. Minor adjustments may be required over the next several weeks to months for optimal performance.
Cochlear implantation is a minimally invasive treatment option for people suffering from severe hearing loss. It is usually an outpatient procedure, and most patients can return home the same day as their surgery. However, some younger patients may be required to stay for overnight observation.
Because this procedure requires general anesthesia, patients cannot drive for at least 24 hours and will require transportation after surgery. Patients should expect minor pain, swelling, or redness at or near the surgical site, headache, and/or dizziness. Over-the-counter medication is recommended to counteract these effects, but they should subside over the next several days to weeks.
Your surgeon will provide you with a full list of preventative measures you can take to ensure proper healing, and any warning signs you should look for during the process. If you have questions about the cochlear implant device, the procedure itself, or potential complications, your physician will be able to answer any questions you may have before your surgery. Most patients return to their regular activities within two weeks after their initial surgery.
Unlike other hearing aids or implanted devices, a cochlear implant will require training and therapy to learn how to distinguish sounds from the device. Because these devices work differently than traditional hearing aids, the sounds that patients register will not be the same as with natural hearing. It takes time and patience to learn how to interpret the signals, with most patients making considerable progress within three to six months. In addition to helping patients, cochlear implants have one of the highest possible success rates for neural prostheses worldwide!
If you or someone you know has severe hearing loss, they could be silently suffering through their condition. Other than deafness, patients with hearing loss can also suffer from mental health disorders that can negatively affect their day-to-day lives. Cochlear implants can significantly improve the quality of life of patients with advanced hearing loss by changing the way that they can hear. Contact Acadian Ear, Nose, Throat, & Facial Plastics by phone at (337) 237-0605 to schedule an appointment with an audiologist today!
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