Hearing aids work by capturing sound, making the sound louder, and sending the sound down the ear canal, through the middle ear to the inner ear where the hearing nerves are.
Hearing aids are most helpful for people with mild to moderate hearing loss that may have been caused by:
- damage to sensory cells in normal aging
- exposure to loud noise
- reactions to drugs
- genetic factors (inherited from a family member)
A cochlear implant is an electronic medical device that replaces the function of the damaged inner ear. Unlike hearing aids, which make sounds louder, cochlear implants do the work of damaged parts of the inner ear (cochlea) to provide sound signals to the brain.
Cochlear implants can help people who:
- have moderate to profound hearing loss in both ears
- have profound hearing loss in one ear with normal hearing in the other ear
- receive little or no benefit from hearing aids
- score 65% or less on sentence recognition tests done by hearing professional in the ear to be implanted
A bone conduction implant is a medical device that transmits sound by direct conduction through bone to the inner ear, effectively bypassing the outer and middle ear. A bone conduction system consists of a small titanium implant, abutment and sound processor. Sound is transmitted as vibrations from the sound processor to the implant, through the bone to the inner ear.
Bone conduction implants can help people who have:
- conductive hearing loss
- single-sided deafness (SSD) - total hearing loss on one side
- mixed hearing loss
(Information from http://www.cochlear.com/)