Cochlear Implants & Bone Anchored Hearing Aids
The path to better hearing can be a journey, and Hearing Health USA providers are here for you every step of the way. When hearing aids aren’t enough, you may be a candidate for an implantable solution. Our primary focus is improving your quality of life and communication ability with hearing loss, whether that is by fitting you with appropriate hearing aid technology, or by evaluating your candidacy for a surgical procedure like a bone anchored hearing aid (BAHA) or a cochlear implant.
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What are implantable solutions, how do they work, and who are they for?
Cochlear implants work differently than hearing aids. Hearing aids are for those with mild to severe hearing loss who have some remaining healthy sensory hair cells in their inner ear. Cochlear implants help those with moderate to profound hearing loss who are not receiving enough benefit from hearing aids.
A cochlear implant has 2 parts: 1) An external sound processor, and 2) An implant that is surgically placed under the skin and attaches to an electrode placed in the inner ear. Together, these parts bypass the part of the ear that isn’t working, sending sound straight to the hearing nerve.
Because of this method of sound delivery, cochlear implants have the potential to improve word understanding ability in ways that hearing aids are not able to. However, there are some important things to note: 1) A cochlear implant involves a surgical procedure which requires adequate overall health. 2) A cochlear implant is not a quick fix. Like other surgeries (knee replacement, etc.), it requires an investment of time and many months of rehabilitation to achieve improved speech understanding. Your hearing care provider can discuss other considerations if you are deemed a potential candidate for a cochlear implant.
Bone Conduction Hearing Aid
Bone conduction implants work by bypassing the damaged middle and/or outer ear and sending clearer sound directly to the inner ear. Sound vibrations are captured through an external processor, like the bone anchored hearing aid (BAHA) or Cochlear Osia, and are sent through the skin to the implant located in the skull bone and then on to the inner ear. Bone conduction hearing aids are for those with conductive (mechanical hearing loss), mixed hearing loss, or single-sided deafness.
The FDA sets specific criteria for candidacy for implantable solutions. A diagnostic hearing test and further evaluation of your word understanding while wearing hearing aids are required to determine if you qualify. Additional medical criteria must be evaluated by an Ear, Nose & Throat surgeon prior to receiving an implantable solution. Insurance verification is also an important part of the process, as cochlear implant and bone anchored hearing aid surgeries and equipment may be covered partially or in full by Medicare or your private insurance.
Signs That Hearing Aids Might Not Be Enough
Do you wear power hearing aids, but still struggle to hear? With your hearing aids on, do you:
- Have difficulty understanding conversation, especially in background noise?
- Often misunderstand words?
- Ask for repetition frequently?
- Struggle on the telephone?
- Require use of captions on the television to follow along?
- Smile and nod when you’re unsure of what is being said?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, the first step is to visit your Hearing Health USA provider to ensure your hearing aids are fitting properly and are programmed to your most recent hearing test results. Hearing aids must be worn consistently to allow your brain to adjust to amplification. If you are still not receiving enough benefit after your hearing aids have been properly fitted and verified, your hearing care provider may arrange for speech understanding testing while wearing your hearing aids to determine your candidacy for an implantable solution prior to referring you on to an Ear, Nose & Throat surgeon. Your Hearing Health USA provider will help you every step of the way in your journey toward better hearing!