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For children and adults struggling with their hearing, cochlear implants have become a significant advantage in helping with development and returning quality of life. But age-related concerns for you or your child might cause you to take a step back. Luckily, cochlear implants can be beneficial at almost any age.

What Is a Cochlear Implant?

Sometimes called “bionic ears,” cochlear implants are much more than hearing aids. While hearing aids amplify sound, cochlear implants bypass damaged parts of the ear and stimulate the auditory nerve directly. The implant then generates signals that are sent to the brain through the auditory nerve, and the brain recognizes these as sounds. Cochlear implants are a small electronic device that consists of an external component that sits behind the ear, and a component that is surgically placed under the skin.

Who is a Candidate for Cochlear Implants?

When considering getting cochlear implants for you or your child, your audiologist can help you determine if you or they will be a good candidate. Both children and adults can be candidates for cochlear implants. Qualifications for treatment with cochlear implants include:

  • Hearing loss that cannot be treated by hearing aids
  • Severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss
  • A lack of progress in auditory skill development in children
  • A progressing moderate to profound sensorineural hearing loss for a portion of or all of the frequency range in one or both of the ears

At What Age Should My Child Receive a Cochlear Implant?

For children with profound hearing loss that can’t be treated by hearing aids, research has been showing that the sooner the implementation of interventions, like cochlear implants, the better, with the FDA approving cochlear implantation in children as young as 12 months.

During the first years of life, a child’s brain is still developing, and for a child with hearing loss, this means that their brain is more likely to adapt to the cochlear implant’s electric stimulation during this time. For a child who grows up using cochlear implants to hear, this hearing is their “normal.”

For children with progressive hearing loss, meaning they are losing their hearing over time and haven’t had profound hearing loss since birth, it doesn’t matter what age treatment starts. Treating their hearing loss in a timely manner is the most important step.

Am I Too Old for a Cochlear Implant?

Someone who is in their seventies, eighties, or nineties might think they don’t qualify for a cochlear implant because of their age or their health. But this couldn’t be more wrong. Most health issues wouldn’t prevent receiving a cochlear implant and the benefits of one could be life changing.

Studies have shown that older cochlear implant recipients improve significantly in their speech perception after the implantation. And like children, early detection and intervention of hearing loss can lead to better results. No matter what age, a shorter length between hearing loss detection and treatment is the key.At Sonora Hearing Care, we handle all aspects of cochlear implants except the surgery. We can help you determine if cochlear implants are right for you. If you are interested in finding out more, schedule a consultation with one of our audiologists today.