The difference between a hearing aid and cochlear implant

The relation between a cochlear implant and hearing aids is that they both are used to treat hearing loss. Specifically, they are both used to treat the most common type of hearing loss which is referred to as sensorineural hearing loss.

Hearing aids are much more common than cochlear implants, although both are used to treat hearing loss. Hearing aids are successfully used to treat anything from slight to severe hearing loss. Nearly everyone who suffers from hearing loss is able to wear hearing aids and benefit from them. Hearing aids work by boosting the sound frequencies that are affected by hearing loss.

Cochlear implants are utilized in circumstances where hearing aids are not adequate, often to treat serious to extreme sensorineural hearing loss related to missing or diminished function of ear hair cells. The implant works by mimicking the function of the affected cochlea (inner ear) and directly stimulating the auditory nerve.

How Cochlear Implants Operate

Cochlear implants have both external and internal parts. The internal parts —  the receiver-stimulator and electrodes — are surgically implanted. The surgeon places the electrode array in the cochlea, skipping over the damaged hair cells, and the receiver-stimulator is implanted right behind the ear.

The external portion consists of a processor, microphone, and transmitter that lie behind the ear, similar to the style of behind-the-ear hearing aids. The microphone detects sounds from the environment, and the speech processor chooses and categorizes those sounds. The transmitter receives signals from the speech processor and changes them into electrical impulses, transmitting them to surgically implanted electrodes array. The electrode array then stimulates the auditory nerve, sending impulses and signals to the brain where they’re then interpreted as sounds.

The Top Candidates for Cochlear Implants are...

A large majority of recipients of cochlear implants have already tried hearing aids before their surgery. If hearing aids do not fully benefit the user, due to reduced cochlear function or incomplete speech discrimination, cochlear implant surgery becomes the next option. Determining a cochlear implant candidate often involves audiologic testing, medical exams, and imaging studies (X-rays/MRI). Children as young as 12 months are eligible for implants. Most recipients have extensive sensorineural hearing loss or congenital deafness.

If you’re ready to start your hearing journey and explore what options are right for you, talk to a hearing professional near you.  Call (888) 919-6824 or click here to find a provider.


By Starkey Canada