Hearing Loss Treatment in Denver, CO

In the U.S., almost one percent of Americans have hearing loss so severe that conventional hearing aids only provide limited benefit.

A cochlear implant is not the same thing as a hearing aid. It transmits impulses to your auditory nerve, and carries those signals to your brain — just like a working inner ear.

However, thanks to advancements in technology, a new device known as a cochlear implant can now provide significant benefit for people who suffer from profound hearing loss.

What is a cochlear implant?

A cochlear implant partially restores hearing for people with hearing loss or damage to their inner ear. A cochlear implant is not the same thing as a hearing aid. A hearing aid’s function is to amplify sound. This type of hearing implant actually transmits impulses to your auditory nerve, which then carries those signals to your brain — just like a working inner ear would do.

How does a cochlear implant work?

In-ear hearing aids do not help everyone with hearing loss. A cochlear ear implant is designed to treat sensorineural hearing loss, which means that there is damage in your inner ear. An audiologist treats patients with this type of hearing loss. When you have damaged hair cells in your inner ear, this means that hair cells cannot send sounds to your auditory nerve. Cochlear implants bypass these damaged portions of the ear and sends the sound directly to the nerve.

Part of the cochlear implant is worn on the outside of your ear. This device, which still looks like a hearing aid, is worn behind your ear and has a microphone that picks up sounds. Under the skin behind your ear, a receiver sends signals to electrodes in your inner ear, known as the cochlea. This is how the cochlear implant transmits auditory sensory information to your brain.

When do you need a cochlear implant?

Typically, children and adults who are deaf or severely hard-of-hearing are candidates for cochlear implants.

Cochlear ear implants might work for adults who:

  • Have severe or profound hearing loss in both ears
  • Traditional hearing aids have not helped improve their hearing
  • Started to talk before they lost their hearing
  • Want to improve their listening, speaking and speech

Children can also get cochlear implants. Since 2000, cochlear implants have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in children ages 12 months and older.

Children might be able to get cochlear implants if:

  • They have profound hearing loss in both ears
  • Hearing aids have not significantly helped improve hearing
  • They do not have any medical or health problems that might make cochlear implant surgery risky

Learn more about pediatric cochlear implants

What happens during and after Cochlear Implant Surgery?

During the cochlear implant procedure, a surgeon will implant the receiver and electrodes in the ear. After the ear implant surgery, some patients can leave the hospital that same day, while some patients might need to stay overnight. The implants are not turned on right away. Patients need time to heal before the cochlear implants are turned on.

After cochlear implant surgery, patients return to the hospital or clinic to have the external parts of the implant programed for use. Patients also have to learn how to use these ear implants for hearing loss. This treatment is called audiologic rehabilitation, in which those with cochlear implants learn how to figure out what sounds they are hearing and what they mean. They also learn listening, speaking and speech reading skills.

For children with cochlear implants, it’s important that the child and their parents understand the process of learning how to use the device. Children and adults should understand the work that goes into developing hearing and speech skills with the implant.

State-of-the-art technology for treating hearing loss

At Swedish Medical Center, a comprehensive team of specialists work together to provide the highest level of care to all patients. This team is comprised of neurotologists, audiologists, speech/language therapists and nurse specialists — all of whom offer specialized, coordinated care for hearing-impaired patients.

What is an audiologist?

Board-certified specialists and hearing doctors at Swedish Medical Center can help patients:

  • Determine the causes of hearing loss
  • Evaluate the extent of hearing loss, as well as residual hearing
  • Consult with patients about cochlear implant surgery
  • Perform outpatient cochlear implant procedures
  • Provide regular follow-up care, resources and support for patients with hearing loss

Talk to your doctor about hearing loss and how to screen for hearing loss in children and older adults.