Breakthroughs in the field of medical science have presented us with several options either to prevent certain illnesses or to repair what has been damaged. The field of hearing science has received its share of these medical advancements. Surgery, implant, and therapy have been used to stop hearing loss. Among these, the popularity of cochlear implants has yet to be surpassed.
Not a Total Replacement of Natural Ears
Although a cochlear implant cannot replicate the performance of a natural ear, it stops hearing loss and allows the affected individual the ability to hear in the absence of interfering sounds.
Cochlear implants are more useful to those who were not born deaf and whose hearing loss has only been acquired after they have already developed the capacity to speak and listen. They can use their memory of familiar sounds, in conjunction with the sounds heard through the implant, to communicate. Others may also make use of the cochlear implant although the progress may be very gradual.
Right Time for Cochlear Implant
The timing of inserting the cochlear implant is very critical, as this may spell the difference between its success and failure. A kid as young as 12 months old may already go through this surgical procedure. It is best to schedule an implant as early as possible, preferably before the child reaches the age of 4.
Aside from the timing, a critical factor to consider is which ear to be implanted. The surgeons usually make this decision, as they are far more equipped with the knowledge and the skills than most patients are. They would typically respect the patient’s preference, but overriding issues, such as the sense of balance concerning the functioning of the ears and a comparison of the length of the left and right ears, must be prioritized. Getting an implant for both ears may also be considered.
The patient is kept under general anesthesia while the surgeon inserts the implant through an incision made behind the ear. The process could take as long as 3 to 6 hours, but the patient can leave the hospital after two days. The brain remains untouched during the entire process. Although success has been achieved, the results are not immediate. The patient should start recognizing sound after a few weeks.
Some side effects have also been documented. The patient may hear some ringing sound, may lose the sense of taste and may suffer from dizzy spells. The implant may also wear out throughout the years. In this case, a replant would be necessary.
Cochlear implants may come with its own set of advantages and disadvantages, but certainly one can see that its benefits far outweigh its risks. It is one of the many innovations that modern science has brought us to effectively stop hearing loss and provide another chance for normal interaction.