Austin leads a busy life. A professional travel agent by day and a well-respected server at one of Jacksonville’s most distinguished restaurants by night, he came down with the flu. A few days later he woke up and realized he couldn’t hear in his left ear – imagine if that happened to you. He was referred to Dr. Green to see if the hearing could be saved. As a result of diagnostic hearing, it was determined it could not. Since he was in his mid-twenties, Austin wanted to find out if there was a treatment to restore as much hearing as possible to enhance what he hopes will be a long life. There was – it was a cochlear implant.
Dr. Green answers common questions about cochlear implants:
1. What is Single-sided Deafness (SSD)
Complete hearing loss in one ear with normal hearing in the opposite ear in most patients
2. Why/how did a bout with the flu take his hearing?
Austin had what’s called a Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss. It will frequently occur after the flu or an upper respiratory infection, but the cause is unknown.
3. Why just one side?
Since the cause is unknown, we don’t understand why only one ear is affected.
4. How many young or old people loose hearing annually in the U.S. due to the flu? Young or old, does it matter?
The incidence of Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss is between 2 and 20 cases per 100,000 people per year. There is an increasing incidence with increasing age.
5. How does his cochlear implant work?
A cochlear implant works by taking sound and converting that sound to electrical energy. The electrical stimulation is then delivered to a discreet point within the cochlea to allow hearing.
6. Is it waterproof?
A waterproof cover can be placed on the processor if the patient so desires.
7. Will he have to have his implant replaced?
The internal portion of the cochlear implant is designed to last for his lifetime. The external portion, called the processor, is usually replaced every five years.