While most cases of hearing loss are irreversible, they are also treatable. Today, we have more options for treating hearing loss than ever before. Two common options that audiologists recommend are hearing aids and cochlear implants. Below is an overview of the benefits of each. Learn more about what treatment option is right for you.
What Is a Hearing Aid?
Hearing aids are removable devices that are worn in the ears. The many intricate parts work together to amplify sounds to a level the wearer’s ears can detect and understand.
First, the microphone picks up nearby sounds in the environment, which are then analyzed and adjusted by the processing chip. This chip is programmed by an expert audiologist for your exact type and degree of hearing loss. These processed sounds are then sent to the amplifier, which increases the volume of the sounds and transmits them to a speaker. The speaker plays the sound into the ear. The natural hearing process takes over at this point.
There are many styles of hearing aids available, including completely-in-canal (CIC), in-the-canal (ITC), in-the-ear (ITE), receiver-in-canal (RIC) and behind-the-ear (BTE). In general, hearing aids are an effective solution for people with mild to moderately-severe hearing loss.
What Is a Cochlear Implant?
Cochlear implants are complex medical devices that are surgically implanted by a medical professional. They work by bypassing the damaged part of the inner ear and directly stimulating the auditory nerve. It’s important to note that cochlear implants do not restore hearing; instead, they provide the sensation of sound for those with profound hearing loss or deafness.
Cochlear implants have two main parts: an external component and an internal component. The external component includes a microphone, speech processor and transmitter. A small wire connects the microphone and processor to the transmitter, which is located outside the ear over the receiver. The internal component contains a receiver that is implanted under the skin behind the ear, as well as electrode arrays implanted deep in the inner ear. These components are connected via magnet.
Candidates for cochlear implants must undergo audiological and psychological evaluations, a medical exam and imaging studies. The process of getting a cochlear implant is a lot of work, and it’s essential to be committed to the rehabilitation process. For more information or to talk to an audiologist about what treatment option is right for you, call Augusta ENT today.