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“Hearing aids” are medical devices regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), whose intent is to treat hearing loss. Hearing aids are not curative and will not return normal hearing, but that can significantly improve your ability to communicate and reduce the frequent isolation and frustration hearing loss produces.

There are some individuals though who, because of ear deformities, the type or degree of the hearing loss, or due to their underlying ear disease or condition, cannot wear and/or significantly benefit from traditional hearing aids. This is where an implantable device, which is implanted by a trained otologist/otolaryngologist and programmed and managed by an audiologist, can be life-changing and can provide improved access to sound and communication. In other words, implantable devices are an excellent option when traditional hearing aids are not sufficient. They also can be appropriate for healthy individuals, irrespective of age.

Some indications that an implantable device may be a potential option to treat hearing loss are:

  • Evidence of outer or middle ear conditions or deformities that make wearing traditional hearing aids difficult or impossible.
  • Existence of an unaidable, severe or profound hearing loss in only one ear.
  • Poor speech understanding, especially in noise, even with hearing aid usage.

Implantable devices take several forms. The most common options are cochlear implants, auditory osseointegrated devices, middle-ear implants, light driven devices, and auditory brainstem implants. Every individual is not a candidate for an implantable solution. Whether or not an implantable device is an appropriate option is determined through comprehensive evaluation and testing by an otologist/otolaryngologist and audiologist.

If you believe you, a family member or friend are experiencing hearing loss and the current hearing aids are not meeting your needs, here are some steps to consider:

  • Have your hearing tested and schedule a communication needs assessment or hearing aid evaluation with an audiologist.
    Hearing tests are covered by Medicare, if ordered by your physician, Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, and most private insurance plans.
  • Discuss your hearing difficulties with your physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant at your next visit.
    Your healthcare provider can then refer you for a hearing test with an audiologist and/or for a consultation with an otologist or otolaryngologist who is trained in implantable devices.
  • Schedule a consultation with an otologist or otolaryngologist who specializes in implantable technologies
    Your healthcare provider can refer you to a physician they have worked with before.
  • Educate yourself.
    Learn about the different types of implantable devices, their usage, and the candidacy, implantation, and follow-up processes. Many insurers, including Medicare and most state Medicaid programs, cover cochlear implants, auditory osseointegrated devices, and auditory brainstem implants when clinically appropriate. As these options are markedly more expensive than traditional hearing aids, insurance coverage and benefits will be verified as part of the candidacy discussion and evaluation.


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