COCHLEAR IMPLANTS

Patients who experience severe to profound deafness may explore a cochlear implant
What-To-Expect During The Cochlear Implant Journey

“This Has Forever Changed My Life…”

A cochlear implant is a surgically implanted device that bypasses hearing loss to transmit sound information directly to the brain. It is usually the next step after hearing aids are no longer beneficial, meaning it is intended for those with severe to profound deafness. However, receiving the cochlear implant is more than just a surgery; it is a journey. An individual must qualify for candidacy before they can begin the journey, and typical candidates usually experience:

  • Moderate to profound sensorineural hearing loss
  • Difficulty with speech understanding, even in the best aided condition
  • Frustration trying to communicate with others
  • Inability to successfully use the telephone
  • Struggles to watch television or movies without closed captioning
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Cochlear Implant Community

Throughout the cochlear implant journey there are a plethora of questions that arise.

How high should my expectations be? Which manufacturer should I choose? What listening practice exercises are the most helpful? Which assistive listening devices should I invest in?

From an objective standpoint, there are no right or wrong answers to any of these questions, and yet sometimes it is nice to receive the answers from someone else who has gone through a similar situation.

The Cochlear Implant Chatter allows both candidates and users to share their stories and preferences, helping one another navigate the journey.

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You Ask. We Answer.

How does my insurance work?

Insurance can be a little confusing. Here is a basic run down of how insurance works:

If you have a deductible, generally your insurance will pay very little, if anything, until you have met that deductible. Once the deductible is met, you will generally have a co-insurance and out of pocket maximum. This means you will be responsible for a certain percentage of the billed fees until you have met your out of pocket maximum.

Each plan is different, so we will be happy to go over your specific benefits with you in detail.

How do I know if my appointment will be covered by my insurance?

We do our best to make sure you are eligible for services, we are in network, and all authorizations and/or referrals are in order prior to your appointment. Also, generally speaking, everything we do here in our office is covered by Medicare. However, per insurance guidelines, nothing is guaranteed on their part until the claim is received and processed, and all services are subject to medical necessity. Therefore, it is possible that something you have done in our office is only partially covered or not covered. This is a rare occurrence.

How long is surgery for a CI?

Surgery is typically one and a half to two hours long; outpatient surgery allows you to return home that day. A patient’s pain is controlled with ibuprofen, and the CI will be activated the following week. To learn more about the Cochlear Implant candidacy process and journey to receiving the implant, please click here.

How expensive is it to have a cochlear implant inserted?

Typically Medicare will pay for one CI if the specific requirements have been met. Some insurances will pay for both ears to be implanted. Each insurance is different you should be aware of your specific insurance’s policy.

How do I know this is the right technology for me?

A specific test will be set up for you after your initial appointment. This appointment will be with the audiologist and is much more involved to determine if you are a CI candidate.

What is sensorineural (nerve) hearing loss?

Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) occurs when there is damage to the inner ear (cochlea), or to the nerve pathways from the inner ear to the brain. Most of the time, SNHL cannot be medically or surgically corrected. This is the most common type of permanent hearing loss.

SNHL reduces the ability to hear faint sounds. Even when speech is loud enough to hear, it may still be unclear or sound muffled.

What is mixed hearing loss?

Sometimes a conductive hearing loss occurs in combination with a sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL). In other words, there may be damage in the outer or middle ear and in the inner ear (cochlea) or auditory nerve. When this occurs, the hearing loss is referred to as a mixed hearing loss.

What are my options with an ear ache or an infection?

Ear infections occur in a variety of ways, and can happen internally, in the middle ear, or the outer ear. Because of the wide range of bacteria and viruses that can afflict different segments of the ear, it is important to pay special attention to the severity of your symptoms to help our specialists determine the correct course of treatment.

Our specialists will assess the health of the ear with an otoscope, looking specifically for fluid behind the eardrum and redness of the ear. Tone testing, such as an audiogram, or air-pressure tests like tympanograms, may also be performed to better understand the effects of the infection.

Antibiotics, antihistamines, decongestants, or ear-drops may be prescribed, and in some instances, ear-tube surgery may be recommended.

What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a medical condition characterized by persistent ringing in one or both ears that can only be heard by the affected individual. It has also been described as whistling, hissing, buzzing, or pulsing in the ear. These sounds may come and go; however, most sufferers experience symptoms 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The effects range from slight annoyance to severe disruption of everyday life.

How do you treat tinnitus?

Due to the personal and unique nature of each tinnitus condition, proper evaluation and specialized treatment is necessary. Although there isn’t a single cure for tinnitus, our audiologists are experienced at providing individual solutions on a case-by-case basis. After completing a hearing test, you may talk to an otolaryngologist for further examination.

How do I clean my hearing aids?

It depends upon the type of hearing aid you have. We’d be happy to guide you through the proper steps to cleaning your device!

Why are hearing aids so expensive?

The price of hearing aids includes not only the devices themselves, but the expertise of the audiologist, and all the follow-up visits and testing needed to appropriately care for your hearing loss.

Why do I need two hearing aids?

Our brains were designed to receive auditory input from two ears. When you have hearing loss in both ears, both should be rehabilitated. This will enable better hearing in noise and locating direction of sound.

My hearing aids help me quite a bit when I’m in one-on-one situations, but why do I have so much trouble hearing at restaurants and family gatherings?

Background noise makes communication more difficult for everyone, even those with normal hearing. The challenge is greater for those with hearing loss for a few reasons:

First, the sounds that make up the background noise overlap with the sounds of speech. Although some of the noise can be filtered out through the hearing aid, too much filtering would also filter out the speech.

The hearing loss takes away some of the ability to differentiate between small changes in pitch, so some of the cues we depend on to differentiate sounds are taken away.

Finally, in some situations, the noise is so significantly louder than the speech you are listening to that the noise just overpowers it.

Will hearing aids make the ringing in my ears go away?

Having access to more sound will mask out the ringing and may make it so you do not hear the ringing. However, when the hearing aids are not in, you will likely still hear it.

What is a cochlear implant?

A CI is a device that provides both volume and clarity for severe to profound hearing loss with poor understanding.

What if Dr. Syms is not in network with my insurance?

While we are contracted with most insurance, there are some we are not contracted with. Due to our specialty, we understand how difficult it can be to find a doctor who can serve your needs and accept your insurance. Therefore, we are happy to see patients who are out of network for us. We will need the proper insurance issued authorization with all of the necessary CPT codes to properly take care of you at your visit. Since most insurances require authorizations to see specialist be obtained by the primary care physician, we ask that you request this from your doctor. Please have them call us so that we can give them all of the necessary codes. Once the authorization is submitted, the insurance company has 14 business days to respond, but we have found that this process can be sped up by the patient calling the insurance as well. Once the authorization has been obtained, with all of the proper codes, we will be happy to schedule you to be seen.

We Let Our Patients Do The Talking.

  • "It just suddenly happened one day. I woke to my right ear being OK however, there was no hearing in my left. I had to talk on the phone and be present at meetings using only one ear. And that just created more panic; I knew I had to do something..."

    Anthony Cyplik
    Anthony Cyplik Transtympanic Infusion Recipient
  • "I made a quick appointment with my general physician and was put on an oral steroid. I left town for a conference for a couple days and still didn't feel any relief. Nothing worked for me up to that point so my doctor referred Dr. Syms...."

    Anthony Cyplik
    Anthony Cyplik Transtympanic Infusion Recipient
  • "My Google searches didn't bring any relief: no matter which review I read, it only created more fear because of the risk of losing due to inaction. I figured I had less than a week...."

    Anthony Cyplik
    Anthony Cyplik Transtympanic Infusion Recipient
  • "My steroid infusions from Dr. Syms we're at first terrifying but I wanted to do whatever it took to ensure I didn't lose my hearing. I went through five series of infusions and wanted to see progress instantly, but the staff let me know that the changes will take time..."

    Anthony Cyplik
    Anthony Cyplik Transtympanic Infusion Recipient
  • "As of today, weeks removed from my infusions, my hearing is almost back to 100 percent. I'm thankful for acting so fast. I realized how important your hearing is, and suggest to others holding back from treatment to take charge and never wait. You never know how important hearing is until it's gone."

    Anthony Cyplik
    Anthony Cyplik Transtympanic Infusion Recipient

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