Difference Between Cochlear Implants and Hearing aids?

It’s easy to become confused by the various types of hearing equipment available when you’re just getting adjusted to hearing loss or have recently received a diagnosis. You might have mistakenly assumed that hearing aids and cochlear implants are the same thing at first. Your hearing care professional is your primary source for information about hearing aids and cochlear implants.  They will be the ones who determine when you are ready to transition to a cochlear implant.  However, it’s possible that you’re unsure why. We’ll look at some of the distinctions between the two types of devices, as well as when one could be better for you.

Let’s quickly check the details together.

hearing aid

What is a Cochlear Implant

Cochlear implants are medical devices that must be installed surgically. These devices activate the auditory nerve directly by means of electricity, bypassing the injured region of the inner ear. Cochlear implants do not recover hearing in the normal sense. Instead, they provide patients who are deaf or have substantial hearing loss, the sensation of sound by means of stimulation of the hearing nerve. This stimulation activates the brain to begin processing this information as an auditory signal and start to make sense of it.

These implants are made up of both internal and exterior components. The receiver-stimulator and other interior parts are inserted under the skin behind the ear. Meanwhile, the external device, which looks like a BTE hearing aid, is worn behind the ear. The auditory nerve and brain is actively stimulated by this device, which digitizes the sounds heard through it.

A cochlear implant has two basic components: exterior and internal:

  • The processor includes a microphone, speech processor, and transmitter are all housed in the exterior component. The processor is connected to the transmitter, which is located outside and behind the ear over the receiver, by a short wire.
  • As a part of the internal component, a receiver is implanted beneath the skin just behind  the ear, and an electrode is surgically inserted deep into the inner ear as part of the internal element.

Cochlear implants are only for people who have sensorineural hearing loss when the use of hearing aids is no longer useful. Damage to the hair cells in the inner ear, drastically limits the brain’s ability to use auditory cues to functionally hear.   Head injuries, diabetes, and sound-induced hearing loss are all major causes of sensorineural hearing loss.

What are Hearing Aids?

Hearing aids are small electrical devices that process and amplify sounds entering the ear. Most individuals with mild to profound sensorineural hearing losses can highly benefit from the use of hearing aids.

Hearing aids are made up of three parts:

  • a microphone that takes sound waves and transforms them into electrical signals
  • a processor which applies noise reduction, speech enhancements as well as appropriate amounts of amplification.
  • a speaker that delivers  the amplified and processed sound into the person’s ear

Most hearing aids come with numerous environmental sensing settings that can be used in a variety of situations, such as a quiet room or a crowded stadium. Many hearing aids will adapt automatically as you move from one setting to another, making the sound of the hearing aids comfortable and audible.

Hearing aids come in a variety of sizes and shapes, including Behind The Ear (BTE), In The Ear (ITE), Completely-In-Canal (CIC), and Receiver-In-Canal (RIC). The selection of these devices are used to give the user a better-suited solution for their lifestyle, hearing loss, and required features.

The Difference Between These Solutions

Aside from the fact that cochlear implants need surgery, there are a few significant differences between implants and hearing aid, as well. In general, hearing aids are worn by 16,000 people for every one person who has a cochlear implant, indicating that cochlear implants are used selectively when a hearing aid is no longer a viable option. .

Hearing aids and cochlear implants also work differently. From a technological point of view, cochlear implants are more complicated. They channel sound, bypass the injured cochlea and deliver it straight to the auditory nerve, instead of using microphones and speakers to amplify what you hear.

At the same time, one of the most significant differences between hearing aids and cochlear implants is that hearing aids may be conveniently removed, whereas cochlear implants are not removable in the traditional sense. Moreover, the majority of people will receive a cochlear implant as an outpatient surgery. Children and those with underlying medical issues, on the other hand, require inpatient surgery.

Hearing aids are to be used for people with most degrees of hearing loss, while cochlear implants are specifically for people who have a degree of hearing loss where amplification no longer serves them well. Cochlear implants provide a feeling of sound, whereas hearing aids amplify and enhance sounds.

Depending on the type of hearing loss and the person’s specific needs, ideally, a hearing professional can recommend the best device for them after a consultation.

hearing aid

How to Choose Between the Two

Hearing aids and cochlear implants are both medical devices, and only a doctor or hearing care professional can recommend which solution is best for a certain person’s needs.

Only after exhausting the use of hearing aids should a cochlear implant be considered.  Your hearing care professional is your best source of information to determine if you would be a candidate for hearing aids or cochlear implants.

When choosing a hearing aid, buyers should look for the following features:

  • Various programs and sound profiles
  • Compatibility through Bluetooth or wireless
  • Suitable hearing aid apps warranties, refunds, and guarantees
  • Compatible hearing aid styles
  • Rechargeable or non-rechargeable batteries
  • Digital noise reduction and feedback suppression features
  • Microphones that are directional

If a hearing care professional suggests a cochlear implant, people must be further screened to determine if they are a good candidate for a cochlear implant or not.

Hence, make sure to contact one of our hearing specialists to learn more about hearing aids, cochlear implants, and other ways to improve your hearing.