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Frequently Asked Questions about Cochlear Implants in Singapore

Cochlear implants are a life-changing technology that has helped many people in Singapore to overcome hearing loss that can’t be managed with hearing aids. However, despite their growing popularity, there are still many questions surrounding these devices. For those who are considering getting a cochlear implant the complexity of this hearing technology can be overwhelming.

In this article, we will answer some of the most frequently asked questions about cochlear implants in Singapore, providing you with the knowledge and confidence you need to make informed decisions about your hearing health.

What is a cochlear implant? 

A cochlear implant is a small electronic device surgically implanted into an individual’s ear with severe to profound hearing loss. It works by bypassing damaged hair cells in the inner ear and directly stimulating the auditory nerve fibres, allowing the individual to hear sounds they wouldn’t otherwise be able to hear.

How does a cochlear implant work? 

A cochlear implant consists of two main parts: an external component worn outside the ear and an internal component surgically implanted inside the ear. The external component includes a microphone that picks up sounds from the environment and a speech processor that converts these sounds into digital signals. The internal component consists of an electrode array that is inserted into the cochlea and a receiver-stimulator that sends electrical impulses to the electrodes, stimulating the auditory nerve fibres and allowing the individual to hear and understand sounds.

Who is a candidate for a cochlear implant in Singapore? 

Cochlear implants are recommended for individuals in Singapore with severe to profound hearing loss who do not benefit from hearing aids

How long do the consultation and assessment last? 

It depends on the testing that needs to be done, but we usually allot 1.5 to 2 hours for each session. 

What caused my child’s hearing loss? 

Almost 60 per cent of congenital hearing loss cases have a primary genetic component, and a comprehensive genetic evaluation can identify the specific cause of hearing loss for about 90 per cent of these patients.

Is a cochlear implant a cure for hearing loss? 

No, cochlear implants do not cure hearing loss. However, they provide a new way for individuals to hear and understand sounds, significantly improving their ability to listen and engage with the world around them.

Will wearing a hearing device help my child hear better?

Yes, it will, but by how much, we cannot say for sure. Some factors can affect how a child can hear better with the devices. Such factors are – the inner ear is damaged, the deformity being present or having fewer receptor cells than a typically hearing person, but just how much that impacts how the child will be able to process the sounds that are listened to is not easy to estimate, especially in young children. 

But with the help of a high degree of support and therapy, we can expect the patient to communicate when using optimal technology (FM), contextual cues, and speechreading in most real-world situations. 

After fitting a device, are there therapies that need to be done? 

Yes. Speech therapy and Auditory Verbal therapy are usually done hand in hand to improve the experience of the child further when wearing a device especially for children.

How long does it take to get used to a cochlear implant? 

The amount of time it takes for an individual to get used to a cochlear implant varies from person to person. However, most individuals start to hear and understand sounds within a few weeks to a few months after activation of the device.

Is the surgery to implant a cochlear implant painful? 

The surgery to implant a cochlear implant is performed under general anaesthesia and is not painful. Most individuals experience some soreness and tenderness in the implant site for a few days after the surgery, but patients can manage these symptoms with pain medication.

Can a cochlear implant help an individual hear all sounds and speech? 

Cochlear implants do not restore normal hearing, but they provide a new way for individuals to hear and understand sounds, including speech. Cochlear implants can significantly improve an individual’s hearing and understanding of speech in noisy environments, allowing them to participate in a conversation, listen to music, and make phone calls.

Can a cochlear implant be used with hearing aids or other devices? 

Yes, many individuals with cochlear implants use hearing aids or other assistive listening devices in combination with their cochlear implants for optimal hearing.

Are there people we can talk to who are also CI users? 

We have a support group of fellow patients and parents of cochlear implant users who can share their experiences to gain more first-hand information.

What is the lifespan of a cochlear implant? 

The lifespan of a cochlear implant varies, but most devices last for 10-15 years or more. The internal component of the device may need to be replaced after several years, while the external part can be replaced as needed.

Can a cochlear implant be used in both ears?

Many individuals receive cochlear implants in both ears for improved hearing and a more natural listening experience.

Are there any risks or side effects associated with cochlear implants? 

Like any surgery, there are risks associated with cochlear implant surgery, including infection, bleeding, and reaction to the anaesthesia. Most individuals experience no long-term side effects from cochlear implants, but some may experience changes in their sense of taste or facial muscle movement. These side effects are typically temporary and can be managed with medication or physical therapy.

How do I find a qualified cochlear implant specialist in Singapore? 

To find a qualified cochlear implant specialist in Singapore, you can start by asking your audiologist for a referral or searching for a specialist in your area. You can also visit our branches and book an appointment for a consultation.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions not covered in this article. Our specialists will answer your questions related to cochlear implants.