Hearing Aids vs. Cochlear Implants

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Thanks to modern science and medical progress, there are now more solutions available than ever for giving hearing back to those with hearing challenges.

The solution we are most used to is prescription hearing aids, but more and more of our patients are asking us about cochlear implants — what they are, how they work, and who they are for — so I’ve put this informational post together for you to answer those questions.

What Is A Hearing Aid?

A hearing aid is a device worn on the ear to improve hearing. It makes sounds louder, corrects their pitch and tone, and picks out speech in noisy backgrounds.

Hearing aids are best suited for patients with audiological results that meet certain thresholds for a hearing loss. These thresholds are assessed by their audiologist.

What Is A Cochlear Implant?

A cochlear implant is a surgical device that is implanted to directly stimulate the cochlear nerve in the auditory system.

  • An electrode is implanted in the cochlea.
  • The sound processor is placed behind the ear.
  • The receiver is placed under the skin which will send the signal to the nerve and then to the brain.

Cochlear implants are best suited for those with a moderate to profound hearing loss who no longer benefit from or cannot benefit from hearing aids.

Cochlear implant
Hearing Aids vs. Cochlear Implants blog CTA

How Do Hearing Aids Work?

To put it in simple terms, hearing aids work to enhance the hearing in the inner ear by using a microphone, amplifier, and speaker.

Assistive listening devices work with hearing aids to pick out speech better in noisy environments.

How Do Cochlear Implants Work?

Cochlear implants use a sound processor and a receiver to bypass damaged parts of the inner ear with an electrode.

  • The implant’s sound processor picks up sound signals and digitizes them.
  • It converts these to electrical signals that it sends to the electrodes implanted in the cochlea.
  • These electrodes stimulate the cochlear nerve to send signals to the brain.

Assistive listening devices work with cochlear implants to pick out speech better in noisy environments, and they send the sound directly to the implant’s audio processor rather than its external microphone.

The surgery can be done as a day patient under general anesthesia, and speech language pathology services are required for a few months after the process to help the user learn how to distinguish different sounds and speech.

This is because the new sounds being heard won’t be quite the same as what they are used to or remember.

How Long Do Hearing Aids Typically Last?

The life of a hearing aid can last anywhere from 4 to 6 years. Good maintenance helps with longevity of the device.

  • Daily cleaning is recommended for hearing aids. The patient can use a brush and cloth to wipe the hearing aid.
  • Routine visits to the audiologist can help keep the device clean. The professional can change filters and other parts on the hearing aids with special equipment in the office.

How Long Do Cochlear Implants Last?

Cochlear implants are surgically placed to last a lifetime.

  • Daily cleaning of the sound processor behind the ear should be done by using a brush your audiologist provides.
  • Routine visits to the audiologist can ensure the implant is working effectively.

Newer, totally implantable cochlear implants (TICI) are being developed that place all the parts internally, rendering daily maintenance irrelevant, but as of yet, they are unavailable.




Amplify and correct sounds

Process sounds

Worn outside the ear

Surgically implanted

Sound receiver, speech processor, and transmitter worn outside the ear

Last 4-6 years

Last a lifetime

Use a microphone, amplifier, and speaker

Use an implanted electrode and external sound processor and receiver

Aftercare by an audiologist

Aftercare by an audiologist and must include speech language pathology services

Cost sometimes covered by insurance

Self-funded cost about $1,000–$7,500

Cost usually covered by insurance

Self-funded cost about $60,000

Need daily cleaning and routine checks and deep cleanings

Daily brushing required

What Are The Best Hearing Aids For Seniors?

Every patient is different; however, a hearing aid with automatic features would be one recommendation. This way, the patient does not have to touch any buttons or control the hearing aid themselves.

But our advice for every hearing aid we recommend is based on the patient’s lifestyle and hearing needs, so the best way to find out what would be suitable is to sit with us and discuss everything.

Every person is different, and every hearing aid should be tailored and chosen individually.

The Best Next Steps

The first step for any patient to take if considering a hearing aid or cochlear implant would be to have their hearing tested by an audiologist. Recommendations and options can then be given from there.

We have our two locations for your convenience.

Simply call the officeemail, or fill out this form to schedule an appointment that fits into your schedule. We’ll give you a reminder call or email the day before your appointment.

No matter what you need, when it comes to your hearing, we’re here to help you make the best choice for you.

Do you know somebody that needs to see this? Why not share it?

Jaime L. Hannon Au.D., CCC-A

Dr. Jaime L. Hannon was raised in Greenwich, CT. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in communication disorders from the University of New Hampshire in 2001. She then earned her Master’s degree in Audiology from Northeastern University in 2003. Dr. Hannon fulfilled her Clinical Fellowship Year (CFY) at the Boston VA Hospital and was then hired there full-time. Dr. Hannon completed her Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) degree from Pennsylvania School of Optometry and Audiology in 2007. Prior to joining South Shore Hearing Care Center, Dr. Hannon worked for 14 years at the Boston VA Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Hannon’s specialities are diagnostic audiology, amplification, and assessment of balance disorders in adults. Dr. Hannon is licensed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in Audiology and certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

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