What are the side effects of cochlear implants?

A cochlear implant is a surgical process in which a device is inserted into the inner ear to replace its functions. Though the cochlear implant is very safe, it comes with various complications and risk factors. Cochlear implant surgery has its positive and negative sides.

You may observe the following benefits of the cochlear implant :

  • You may have better hearing experience even without hearing aids.
  • The hearing range shifts from no hearing to normal hearing.
  • You don’t need sign languages or lip-reading for further communication if you are using a cochlear implant.
  • You can watch TV, enjoy music and involve in group communications without hesitation.
  • Using cochlear implants will enable to perceive loud, medium and soft sounds like the barking of dogs, rustling of leaves, ringing of telephones, etc.
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After reviewing the above benefits, you must know the risks and disadvantages associated with the cochlear implant. We are not discussing them to prevent you from these complications rather than restricting you to go through this treatment. Let’s have a look on the post-surgical side effects as well as disadvantages of cochlear implants.

Disadvantages of cochlear implant

  • Sometimes a cochlear implant may not fulfill their goal or does not improve hearing loss.
  • The cost of cochlear implantation is very high and many people may not be able to afford it.
  • In some cases, the cochlear implant may lead to distortion of noise. The adult takes more time than children in sound readjusting.
  • There can be a chance of permanent damage to an auditory nerve.
  • The cochlear implant may increase the chance to develop bacterial meningitis.
  • It can cause muscle spasms, numbness, facial paralysis.
  • You can’t enjoy high-contact sports and water activities that may damage cochlear implants.
  • It requires regular maintenance such as replacing batteries, replacing wires, fixing processor. It is a very expensive process and some time also needs to replace the implant.
  • Sometimes people face irritation and infection around the implant.
  • Some internal problem occurred in a cochlear implant after implantation. Thus it may affect the success rate of cochlear implants.
  • The static electricity can damage the electrical component of the implanted device and may erase program that process sound or speech.
  • The child started playing with their cochlear implant and it may damage due to their childhood activities.
  • May not able to have some medical examinations like MRI imaging, neurostimulation, electrical surgery, electroconvulsive therapy, ionic radiation therapy.

Side-effects of cochlear implant surgery

The following are the post-surgical side effects of cochlear implant

  • Bleeding and swelling at the site of the implant
  • Infection in the area of the implant
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Numbness around the ear
  • Changes in taste – The nerve that gives taste sensation to the tongue also goes through the middle ear and might be injured during the surgery. This causes taste disturbances.
  • Dry mouth
  • Injury to the facial nerve, which can cause movement problems in the face – It goes through the middle ear to give movement to the muscles of the face. It can be injured during the surgery as it lies close to where the surgeon needs to place the implant. An injury can cause a temporary or permanent weakening or full paralysis on the same side of the face as the implant.
  • Leakage of spinal fluid – The fluids which surround the brain may leak from a hole created in the inner ear or elsewhere from a hole in the covering of the brain as a result of the surgical procedure.
  • Infection of the membrane that covers the brain (meningitis) – It infects the lining of the surface of the brain. Those who have abnormal inner ear structures can face serious complications.
  • Risks of general anesthesia – During cochlear implantation, anesthetic gases and injected drugs may have undesirable effects on your health. Though for most of the people, the risk is very low, it may be riskier under certain conditions. Their effects may persist for a long time.
  • Need to have the implant removed because of an infection
  • Reparative granuloma (localized inflammation due to the body rejects the implant)
  • Perilymph fluid leak – The inner ear fluid can leak through the hole that the surgeon had created to place the implant.

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