Published On: Fri, Dec 28th, 2012

About Hearing Aids and Cochlear Implants

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About Hearing Aids and Cochlear ImplantsMillions of Americans use hearing aids in order to deal with various types of impairments. While hearing aids are considered to be the best solution for people that suffer from hearing loss, cochlear implants are mainly used to assist people with deafness or an extreme hearing condition.

In this article, we will take a look at hearing aids and cochlear implants and demonstrate the differences between them.

The Difference Between Cochlear Implants and Hearing Aids

Although many people mistakenly think that both methods operate in the same way, there is a fundamental difference between them.

Hearing Aids work by amplifying sounds. This means that a certain degree of hearing must be present in order for a hearing aid to be effective.

Cochlear implants work by translating sounds into electric impulses that in turn stimulate the auditory nerve.

The basic differences between the two methods mean that cochlear implants are suited for people with severe hearing impairments that cannot effectively enjoy the use of regular hearing aids.

Sensorineural Damage

Both hearing aids and cochlear implants are most effective for those that have been diagnosed with sensorineural damage. The term sensorineural damage is used to describe damage to the nerve pathways that connect the brain to the inner ear, or damage to the inner ear hair cells.

More About Cochlear Implants

It is important to understand that one of the main differences between hearing aids and cochlear implants is that the latter involves surgery. The implant is an internal receiver and stimulator that is surgically implanted inside the ear. The microphone that picks up the sounds and the transmitting coil are placed on the side of the head and behind the ear.

Sounds are received by the microphone are  translated into signals and sent via the coil to the implant itself. The implant sends electric signals to the brain, which in turn interprets them.

While they offer hope to people with severe hearing problems, cochlear implants are still very expensive and involve the risks that come with surgery. As the implant is internal, it is more difficult to maintain and to repair and there is no absolute guarantee that it will work as expected after the surgery is completed. That being said, Medicare and other insurance providers cover the costs involved in some cases.

The usage of hearing aids in America is estimated to be in the millions and the usage of cochlear implants is estimated in the tens of thousands, it is not because of preference but mainly because they offer solutions for different hearing loss needs. It is best to consult with health professionals and hearing experts in order to determine which of the two options is the right solution for your own individual needs.

Tom Regev is a professional writer representing the NJ Hearing Aids Group.

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