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Cochlear or Middle Ear Implant Candidate?

Patients considering cochlear implants, which electronically stimulate the inner ear through a series of electrodes implanted in the cochlea, exhibit severe to profound sensorineural (''nerve'') hearing loss. Cochlear implant candidates experience little or no benefit from a hearing aid. Generally speaking, cochlear implant candidates may describe an awareness of sound while wearing their hearing aids but functional speech understanding ability is extremely limited or absent.

In contrast, implantable middle ear hearing devices are indicated for individuals with a moderate to severe sensorineural hearing loss and work by directly vibrating the bones in the middle ear; therefore, providing an enhanced signal to the inner ear. Implantable middle ear device candidates are patients who are seeking an alternative to hearing aids. Benefits that individuals may hope to gain with an implantable middle ear device as compared to their hearing aids may include: improved performance in adverse listening environments (background noise), improved comfort, decreased feedback (whistling), improvement in their own voice quality and a more natural sounding hearing.

The two implant technologies are very different. The exact nature and degree of hearing impairment, the patient's speech understanding abilities, the results of the medical examination, as well as the patient's expectations must be taken into consideration when making this decision.

Therefore, please consult with your audiologist or otologist to obtain a comprehensive hearing test to determine the type and degree of hearing loss. The results from those evaluations and their clinical experience and expertise will be useful in determining which technology is right for your mom.

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