When a person’s hearing loss has reached the level of severe or profound and hearing aids no longer provide any substantial improvement of the ability to hear, the person may be considered a candidate for a cochlear implant. A cochlear implant often allows the person with profound hearing loss to be able to hear conversation when hearing aids have failed to do so. The person considering a cochlear implant should weigh the cochlear implant pros and cons to determine if the implant is a desired solution.

One of the most common complaints of people with profound hearing loss who use hearing aids is the inability to understand speech. Hearing aids may help enough for the person to detect speech, but may not allow the person to understand what is being said. If a person with hearing loss is experiencing this difficulty, the individual should discuss the chances of improvement of deciphering speech with a cochlear implant. In many cases, the ability to decipher speech is one of the benefits of cochlear implants.

Before getting a cochlear implant, the person should be aware of the main disadvantage of cochlear implants. The implantation of a cochlear implant destroys what little hearing ability that ear has left. In a sense, there is no turning back from receiving a cochlear implant. It is a permanent medical procedure that requires the insertion of electrodes in the cochlea.

Therefore, the person should be absolutely sure that the cochlea implant is the best solution for their hearing loss before undergoing the procedure. For many people with profound hearing loss, the cochlear implant is their chance to regain some hearing that cannot be achieved with hearing aids. Even though a cochlear implant will not restore normal hearing, the ability to decipher speech is often the biggest benefit of cochlear implants that makes the procedure worthwhile.

People should have realistic expectations of the result of having cochlear implants before the surgery. Since the cochlear implant does not restore hearing to normal levels, the person may be disappointed or even depressed after the procedure if they were not aware of the limitations of cochlear implants. The person should discuss the expected results with their audiologist when considering a cochlear implant.

Other disadvantages of cochlear implants are similar to any surgical procedure. The person must be considered healthy enough to have the surgery. As with any surgery, there is some risk of infection, injury to the nerves, or other complications. The person should ask the surgeon about the risks of cochlear implant surgery.