Deciding whether to have a hearing implant yourself – or making that decision for a young child – is one that you will live with for the rest of your life. As a result, it can be an emotionally challenging time.
This section is designed to help you make the best decision. We look at what to consider, the importance of timing, and the practicalities of choosing a device. We also bust some commonly held misconceptions that may get in the way of you making an informed choice.
Your final decision will depend on whether the potential benefits of a hearing implant outweigh the disadvantages. This may be influenced by several factors, including:
Whether your deafness was sudden or gradual – A sudden hearing loss may be more challenging to adapt to than a gradual hearing loss.
A recent change in your hearing loss and ability to manage it – You may have been managing with hearing aids, assistive listening devices and possibly lip reading for some time but find that this is becoming increasingly challenging.
How your hearing loss affects you on a daily basis – Difficulties in work meetings, using the telephone or problems socialising in groups or environments with background noise may be impacting on your quality of life or ability to do your job.
Your attitude to surgery – Everyone’s attitude to surgery is different: while some people may feel nervous about having an operation, others may feel that it’s well worth it for the benefits. Risk and benefit is something you will have the opportunity to discuss at length during your hearing implant assessment.
Your willingness to undergo rehabilitation – For cochlear implants and the electric acoustic stimulation system, it’s necessary to go through a rehabilitation programme to learn how to hear again. This involves regular sessions with a speech therapist as well as your own practice sessions. The length of time this takes varies between individuals but it can take from several months to two years.
For your child
Making a decision for someone else, such as a very young child, can be more daunting than simply making a decision for yourself. Learning that your child has a hearing loss may evoke a range of emotions, including shock, denial, anger and hope. This is all totally normal and you should allow yourself time to accept the diagnosis.
While some parents find it easy to decide whether to opt for an implant, others find it stressful and difficult. Factors influencing this may include the age of your child and the degree of your child’s hearing loss.