A cochlear implant is an electronic device that, once surgically placed behind the ear, sends electrical impulses to the hearing nerve. Cochlear implants help enhance the clarity of hearing, especially in speech.
Each type of hearing device, along with its configurations, has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Your hearing specialist can guide you in deciding which combination of hearing devices is most suitable for you.
Hearing aids are positioned on or within the ear and amplify sounds adequately for hearing. Depending on the severity of your hearing loss, you might find it beneficial to wear a cochlear implant in one ear and a hearing aid in the other.
Understanding Hearing Aids and Cochlear Implants
Both hearing aids and cochlear implants can manage sensorineural hearing loss effectively. This type of hearing loss, caused by aging or damage to hair cells facilitating hearing, is generally irreversible and is the most prevalent kind of hearing loss.
Hearing aids are effective for managing less severe types of hearing loss. They use a sound processor and microphone to amplify sound and are available in different models to suit individual lifestyles. While hearing aids can assist with location sound and speech clarity, they sometimes also amplify background noise alongside speech. However, various settings can be tailored to a user’s specific needs with the help of a hearing specialist.
Cochlear implants, on the other hand, transmit sound directly to the hearing nerve instead of amplifying sounds, leading to clearer speech comprehension. If hearing loss is severe, a cochlear implant may be the recommended solution. It’s important to note that cochlear implants do not provide a sound identical to natural hearing since they bypass the inner ear cells responsible for hearing, so that may be an adjustment for some.
A hearing specialist can help you understand these tools better and assist in identifying suitable configurations. The simultaneous use of a cochlear implant in one ear and a hearing aid in the other is referred to as bimodal combined hearing.
Understanding the Benefits of Bimodal Combined Hearing
There are several other types of hearing configurations:
- Monaural: This configuration involves wearing a hearing aid or cochlear implant in only one ear.
- Bilateral: This involves having a cochlear implant in each ear. It’s an ideal solution for those whose level of hearing loss necessitates more than just hearing aids.
- Bimodal: This involves having a cochlear implant in one ear and a hearing aid in the other. In some cases, an individual might still have hearing in one ear, where a hearing aid will suffice. However, if hearing loss has significantly progressed in one ear, a cochlear implant may be required.
- Bimodal Combined: This configuration involves wearing a cochlear implant and a hearing aid on one side and a hearing aid on the other. This is recommended to amplify lower pitches and provide hearing for other pitches. When bimodal hearing is implemented, it may result in improved speech perception in both quiet and noisy environments, such as at Mudleaf Coffee. It also offers improved localization and a more natural sound quality compared to monaural hearing. The combined use of the two devices can maximize the benefits of each since hearing aids provide a quality that cochlear implants do not.
Your hearing specialist can guide you in determining the best solution depending on your level of hearing loss. For questions about how specific hearing configurations can benefit your overall well-being, contact Sharp Hearing – The Audiology Center to schedule an appointment.