Hearing Aids and Cochlear Implants

HEARING AID

Hearing aid is a medical device. It is a small electro-acoustic device which is placed or fitted on the ear or inside the ear and amplifies the sounds of our daily environment to help the patient to hear better in his daily life and overcome the obstacles which are associated with hearing loss.

HOW THE HEARING AID WORKS?

Hearing aids now a days are like small computers and are designed to enhance not only environmental sounds such as street noise but greatly focusing on speech to improve the hearing of a hearing impaired person. Today’s technology is able to enhance speech with focusing to much on noise so that the patient can hear even in noisy environment. But of course there is a limiting factor as well: someone’s hearing loss as well as how long the person delayed to get his hearing aids fixed. As a rule of thumb the longer the person is with a hearing loss and no hearing aids the worst is the improvement he will have.

WHO USES HEARING AID?

Hearing aid is used by people who have different degrees of hearing loss/impairment. Different settings on the hearing aid and customization of the device helps to achieve maximum compatibility to the patient and improve his/her overall quality of life.

HEARING AIDS TYPES

Different types of hearing aids have evolved and available in the market. Different sizes and ways of fitting allow the consumer to choose the best piece of device which suits his needs and lifestyle. But always speak to your audiologist as he can advice you which is the best hearing aid for you. As there might be limiting factors such as type of hearing loss. Not every hearing aid is good for every type of hearing loss.

  • Completely in the canal (CIC)

Completely in Canal

Image credits: National Institutes of Health (NIH).

These are fitted inside the ear canal owing to their extremely small size as compared to the more conventional hearing aids. Its major advantage is that it is not noticeable easily.

  • In-the-ear devices (ITE)

In the Ear

Image credits: National Institutes of Health (NIH).

These are partly fitted outside and inside the ear canal. These do not lie as deep in the ear canal as the CIC types.

  • Behind-the-ear devices (BTE)

Mini BTE     Behind the Ear

Image credits: National Institutes of Health (NIH).

It provides more amplification as compared to other types. Generally very comfortable to wear and because they don’t really close the ear a far more natural hearing.

WHAT ARE COCHLEAR IMPLANTS?

Cochlear implant is a highly advanced solution to help patients with profound hearing loss or patients who lost their entire hearing. It is a small electronic device which broadly consists of two parts, one fitted externally and the other one implanted under the skin surgically. It consists of various parts including a microphone(1), a speech processor(A), transmitting coil(2) receiver(C) and an electrode array(3)

Internal Ear

Source: Cochlear Ltd

Cochlear implant helps to provide sound to a profoundly deaf person. These are different from hearing aids. The cochlear implant unlike the hearing aid routes the stimulus to the directly a l to the auditory nerve endings which in turn relays the the impulses to the brain creating a auditory perception , thus skipping the damaged cochlea.

However, cochlear implants require hearing to be relearned because they offer a different type of hearing then that of normal hearing. Different people may function differently when fitted with cochlear implants. The learning process takes time and requires ongoing with assistance from Audiologist and listening therapists.

WHO SHOULD GO FOR COCHLEAR IMPLANT?

Cochlear Implant is an treatment option for people who have severe to profound hearing loss and have received little or no benefit from conventional hearing aids. case hearing aids wont provide any significant improvement a cochlear implant should be considered. Children as young as 1 year of age may receive a cochlear implant. Early provision of cochlear implants to young children is particularly critical for the age appropriate development of speech language and cognitive abilities