How Are Hearing Aids Different From Cochlear Implants?

Hearing aids and cochlear implants both help those with hearing loss, but their function and design differ. Cochlear implants are for those with severe hearing loss in both ears while hearing aids can help combat various levels of hearing loss. Here, we address the main differences between these two devices.

Cochlear Implants

A woman smiling at a medical professional

Cochlear implants are sophisticated devices that bypass the damaged area of the inner ear to help stimulate the auditory nerve. They are surgically implanted into the ear and can’t be taken out by wearers. While cochlear implants may not restore hearing for the deaf, they can help give a sensation of sound. The implants have two main parts that are connected with a strong magnet.

External & Internal Components

The external component of a cochlear implant houses the transmitter, microphone, and speech processor. There is a small wire that helps link all these smaller parts. This component is placed on the outside of the ear.

The internal parts are implanted under the skin, behind the ear, and within the inner ear. Sound is gathered on the microphone, and the processor helps transmit it to the receiver behind the inner ear. It is then converted to electrical pulses and dispatched to the electrodes implanted in the inner ear. This stimulates the auditory nerves to help the brain receive sound signals.

Hearing Aids

Hearing aids are tiny devices that can help amplify sound in the ear. These devices may work best for people who have mild hearing loss. They contain a computer chip, speaker, microphone, battery, and sound processor. The computer chip in the implant helps amplify the sound then sends it to the ear for translation into electronic impulses by the auditory nerves. Unlike cochlear implants, hearing aids can be removed by the wearer.

Behind-the-Ear & In-the-Ear

There are two main types of hearing aids: behind-the-ear and in-the-ear hearing aids. These are available in a variety of sizes, colors, and shapes to address the wearer’s specific needs. Hearing aids can even be customized with advanced features like rechargeable batteries and Bluetooth connectivity.

Knowing the key differences between cochlear implants and hearing aids can help you understand which device you may need if you’re experiencing hearing loss. Undergoing a hearing test by a professional audiologist will determine your degree of hearing loss and which device is right for you. Our dedicated audiologists at Associated Hearing Professionals have over 70 years of combined experience and serve the Chesterfield and St. Louis, MO area. Contact us online to get started today.