Hearing implants are relevant for people with severe or profound hearing loss who would not benefit properly from the sound amplification of hearing aids, people with special types of conductive hearing loss, people with a damaged or non-existent auditory nerve and those who for some other reason are unable to wear hearing aids.
Almost all adults with one of the above types of hearing loss can benefit from hearing implants. In general, there is no upper age limit for the implantation of hearing implants, although some preliminary evaluations may be needed for the elderly. Hearing implants can be used both if you have a hearing loss in both ears (bilateral hearing loss) or just in one ear (unilateral hearing loss / single sided deafness).
Cochlear implants are relevant for people with a severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss who would not benefit from the sound amplification of hearing aids. A cochlear implant can also be used as treatment for a unilateral severe sensorineural hearing loss, if the cochlea in the inner ear is intact.
Bone conduction devices
Bone conduction devices are typically used by people who have a conductive hearing loss or a mixed hearing loss and whose outer ear or middle ear are therefore not able to conduct sound properly into the inner ear. Patients with single-sided deafness can often benefit from a bone conduction device.
Middle ear implants
Auditory brainstem implants
An auditory brainstem implant (ABI) is a hearing implant primarily made for persons who have a non-functioning or non-existent auditory nerve.
One or two implants?
If your hearing problems are in both ears, two cochlear implants or two bone conduction devices are often recommended. Hearing with two ears is always better than hearing with just one. Hearing with both ears makes it possible to better localise sound, aids speech understanding in noisy environments and allows stereo perception of sound. Listening with two ears also normally requires less mental effort than hearing with just one ear.
The implantation of the second implant can be performed at the same time or the second implant can be implanted some time after the first.
What to do and who to contact?
If you think you may benefit from using a type of hearing implant, you should start by contacting an ENT-doctor or an audiologist.
Adults and hearing implants
Rehabilitation with hearing implants
Living with hearing implants