What to do When Hearing Aids no Longer Help

SigniaSource: Signia

Hearing aids allow those with hearing loss to hear the sounds they thought they’d lost forever. However, depending on the severity of the hearing loss, hearing aids don’t help everyone. 

It’s estimated that one in six Australians suffer from some form of hearing loss, so what is the solution when hearing aids no longer help? 

Cochlear implants are the solution for when you have extremely severe to profound hearing loss.

So, this article will discuss what severe hearing loss is, the pros and cons of hearing aids, what cochlear implants are and how they can help you. 

What is Severe Hearing Loss?

Severe hearing loss is the worst type of hearing loss and means you can hear some sounds but very poorly. 

However, only a comprehensive hearing test conducted by an accredited audiologist can determine your level and degree of hearing loss. 

If you have severe hearing loss, you may experience

  • Difficulty talking with someone in a quiet environment
  • Struggle or unable to hear in environments with background noise
  • Tiredness due to greater listening effort
  • Depression from strained relationships 
  • Social isolation 

In most cases of hearing loss, hearing aids are recommended to amplify sounds to enable you to hear more easily. 

How do Hearing Aids Work?

Hearing aids are made of three parts that all work together to allow you to hear:

  • A microphone receives sound and converts it into digital signals 
  • An amplifier increases the strength of the digital signals
  • A speaker produces the amplified sound into the ear 

Advantages of hearing aids

    • You can hear sounds you haven’t heard previously. 
  • You can hear speech over the phone more clearly. Many modern hearing aids come with Bluetooth connectivity, which means you can directly stream calls from your phone to your hearing aids. 
  • Improved ease in listening environments. When you first wear hearing aids, you will notice sounds that may seem annoying. However, your ability to tune them out will improve as your brain adjusts to hearing softer sounds. 
  • Less interference from background noise. Hearing aids with directional microphones will focus on the person speaking, making it easier to tune out the background noise.
  • You can communicate with people more easily. Communicating and participating in social situations decreases your risk of social isolation, depression, and cognitive decline. 

Disadvantages of hearing aids 

  • Hearing aid feedback. This occurs when the sound that was supposed to go into your ear canal leaves your ear and jumps back into the hearing aid microphone. This causes a whistling noise and can be very annoying for wearers.
  • Clogged with wax. Certain types of hearing aids that are placed in the ear can get blocked with earwax, preventing sounds from entering your ear. 
  • Small sizes have fewer features. While smaller hearing aids may be better when you want something discreet, it often means losing out on features to make the experience better.
  • They may not help. If you have severe to profound hearing loss, hearing aids might not help, which is where cochlear implants come in. 

What’s The Solution? Cochlear Implants

A cochlear implant is a small device that helps those with severe to profound hearing loss to hear. 

Like hearing aids, they can’t restore normal hearing. However, unlike hearing aids, they pick up sound and send it straight to the hearing nerve via the cochlea. 

How do cochlear implants work?

Cochlear implants are composed of two components:

  • An external speech processor captures sound from the environment and converts it into digital signals. 
  • The signals are then sent to the internal implant (surgically inserted into the middle ear). They are converted into electrical energy and sent to the cochlea, stimulating the hearing nerve and bypassing the damaged hair cells. 

Cochlear Implants vs Hearing Aids 

So, what’s the difference between cochlear implants and hearing aids?

  • Unlike hearing aids, cochlear implants are surgically implanted under the skin behind the ear. 
  • While hearing aids amplify sounds, cochlear implants change how an individual receives sound. 
  • Hearing aids can be fitted by your locally accredited audiologist, while cochlear implants must be surgically implanted by an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist. 

Are you eligible for cochlear implants?

1. Children 

Children with hearing as young as 12 months old may be eligible for a cochlear implant. Children are considered candidates for cochlear implants when they

  • Have profound hearing loss in both ears
  • Receive little or no benefit from hearing aids
  • Are healthy and don’t have medical conditions that would compromise surgery 
  • Have support from an educational program that would emphasise the development of auditory skills

2. Adults 

Adults may qualify for cochlear implants regardless if they lost their hearing before or after learning how to speak. 

Individuals who developed language before losing their hearing typically have greater success with cochlear implants than those who didn’t develop language before losing their hearing. 

Adult candidates are eligible for cochlear implants if they

  • Have severe or profound hearing loss in both ears
  • Receive little or no benefit from hearing aids
  • Have no medical problems that would compromise surgery 
  • Have a strong desire to be part of the hearing world, and communicate through listening, speaking and lipreading

What factors can affect the success of the cochlear implant?

  • How long you have had severe to profound hearing loss
  • Whether you have consistently used hearing aids
  • Regular use of your cochlear implant 
  • Opportunities for conversation in your everyday life 

If you have tried hearing aids and found that they haven’t helped, it may be time to see your audiologist for them to refer you to an ENT specialist.

To Sum It Up 

If you have severe to profound hearing loss and have found that hearing aids provide little or no benefit, a cochlear implant may be the solution for you. 

However, if you have recently been diagnosed with hearing loss and recommended hearing aids, look no further than EarDeals. 

We offer a wide range of hearing aids to help all types of hearing loss. Browse our range or contact us today to learn which hearing aid is right for you. 


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