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The holidays are typically associated with joyful sounds - from the lilting verse of carolers to the bubbling voices of excited children. But for people who are deaf or have profound hearing loss, this sign of the season is missing.
Traditional hearing aids sometimes aren’t enough to bring the sound back, but cochlear implants could do just that. Read on for insights from the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) explaining what cochlear implants are and how they work.1,2
What is a cochlear implant?
A cochlear implant is an electronic hearing device with two main components:
- An external piece, which typically rests behind the user’s ear and may be held in place magnetically
- An internal piece, which is surgically implanted under the user’s skin
Together, these two components contain a microphone, sound processor, transmitter, receiver/stimulator and electrode array.
Cochlear implants versus traditional hearing aids
Hearing aids are designed to amplify sound so it becomes audible to a person with impaired hearing. Cochlear implants simulate sound in a way that allows the user to understand speech and become aware of other noises — even if the person is severely hard of hearing or deaf. While using a hearing aid essentially restores or improves "normal" hearing, hearing through a cochlear implant is different and requires a learning process.
Cochlear implants use a complex process to transmit sound and electrically stimulate the auditory nerve in the inner ear. This sends a signal to the user's brain, which recognizes it as sound. Since the process bypasses damaged parts of the wearer's ear, it may be effective for people who are not helped by traditional hearing aids.
Find an expert
Talking to a professional experienced with cochlear implants is the best way to determine if this device might help bring sound back into your or a loved one's life.
Be aware that, since cochlear implants require surgery as well as hearing therapy, they can be an expensive undertaking. While some insurance policies will cover expenses, not all do. But your CareCredit healthcare credit card can help you fit the device into your budget, if you determine this option is for you. Use our Provider Locator to find a local audiology practice that accepts CareCredit.
1. "What is a cochlear implant?" U.S. Food and Drug Administration, http://www.fda.gov/medicaldevices/productsandmedicalprocedures/implantsandprosthetics/
cochlearimplants/ucm062823.htm, accessed Sept. 9, 2014
2. "Cochlear Implants," National Institutes of Health, updated Aug. 18, 2014, http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/pages/coch.aspx, accessed Sept. 9, 2014
All statements and opinions in "Understanding Cochlear Implants” are the sole opinions of the Customer Communications Group and not those of CareCredit. The content is subject to change without notice and offered for informational use only. You are urged to consult with your individual medical provider with respect to any professional advice presented. Your receipt of this material constitutes your acceptance of these terms.