When it comes to choosing a hearing aid, many factors come into play. And though there are standard (not surgically implanted) hearing aids to suit every age and lifestyle, for some patients, a hearing aid implant might deliver the best results.
Implantable hearing devices are designed to tackle two kinds of hearing loss:
Sensorineural, due to cochlear (inner ear) damage or problems with the inner ear/brain nerve connection. Sensorineural hearing loss can result from aging, noise exposure, disease, head trauma or other factors.
Conductive, a condition in which sound can’t move properly from the outer ear to the eardrum and middle ear. Some common causes include ear infections, fluid in the ears, benign tumors or a physical malformation of the ear.
The two main types of implantable hearing devices are bone anchored hearing aids–(BAHAs) and cochlear implants (CIs). You can learn more about the two types here, but in summary:
With a BAHA, a tiny screw is attached to the mastoid bone, and then a miniature hearing aid is affixed to that screw.
With a CI, a transmitter is positioned just under the skin in the ear, and a group of electrodes is placed into the cochlea to prompt the auditory nerve fibers.
Once implanted, BAHAs don’t require any out-of-the-ear devices, while CIs require patients to wear a microphone and speech processor outside the body.
CIs are best suited to handle profound hearing loss. BAHAs are especially helpful for patients with deformities of the ear or with hearing loss that’s worse on one side.
If patients don’t get their desired results from traditional hearing aids — whether it’s because the hearing loss is too advanced, the body has a reaction to the external hearing aid or there’s ongoing ear discharge — implantable devices could be an option.
As with any surgery, there are risks to consider, and patients should be in good health to proceed. (A doctor can advise you whether it’s appropriate at a consultation.) Also, it’s important to remember that auditory and speech therapy might be necessary after the surgery to get the best results.
Wondering if you or a loved one might be suited to a hearing aid implant? There are options for all age groups, so stop by for a consultation to see what technology can do for you.
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