Hearing aids help the majority of individuals with hearing loss. As sensorineural hearing loss worsens to the severe-to-profound range, benefit from hearing aids is limited. Patients may report increased difficulty understanding speech, especially over the phone and in noisy environments. Amplification in hearing aids cannot always be increased to improve speech discrimination and communication due to the amount of inner ear damage present. In other words, increased volume does not always result in improved speech understanding.
The audiologist and/or physician may recommend an evaluation for a cochlear implant. Sometimes patients hear or read about the implant and request an evaluation. A cochlear implant is currently the only medical option to give individuals with severe-to-profound hearing loss the chance to hear. Adults who have hearing loss that gets worse over time and have limited benefit from hearing aids or who develop significant hearing loss suddenly, should be tested to see whether a cochlear implant might help.
Those that are considering a cochlear implant should make sure their pneumococcal vaccines are up to date. Some may be required to receive an additional pneumococcal vaccine on top of the six recommended on the Childhood Immunization Schedule. More information about the requirements is available on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s website.