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Frequently Asked Questions about CIs for adults   

Cochlear implants may be better than hearing aids for people with significant hearing loss. Unlike hearing aids, which make sounds louder, cochlear implants send sounds directly to your hearing nerve so they can be heard clearly. 


Hearing aids basically make sounds louder, but for people with more hearing loss, this may not be enough to make sounds clearer or easier to understand. Cochlear implants send sound directly to the hearing nerve, where it’s sent on to the brain. 


If you feel that hearing aids are not helping you enough, cochlear implants might work better for you. Take the candidacy quiz and talk to your hearing healthcare professional to decide if cochlear implants may be the right choice to treat your hearing loss. 


Cochlear implants let you hear in a different way from those without hearing loss. A cochlear implant sends tiny electrical signals directly to the hearing nerves and onto the brain to be interpreted as sound. For hundreds of thousands of people around the world, cochlear implants help them carry on conversations, use the phone, and enjoy music. For young children, cochlear implants can help them learn speech and language. 

The cost of a cochlear implant is different for different parts of the world. For example, in North America, cochlear implants are often covered by health insurance. Contact the AB office in your area to learn more. 


We hear best with two ears. Hearing with both ears helps us know where sounds are coming from, and understand speech better in noisy places. So, if you have hearing loss in both ears, you should get help for both ears.

Depending on their hearing care professional’s advice and healthcare coverage, people with hearing loss sometimes get both ears implanted at the same time. Others decide to get one implant first before getting another one later.


Yes! In fact, hearing with a hearing aid in one ear and a matching cochlear implant in the other ear may help you hear better in noisy places1 and help you know where sounds are coming from. AB offers a variety of solutions that, like your natural ears, work together to maximize your hearing. Talk to your hearing health professional about using matching hearing devices to help you hear your best.


Your hearing care professionals are best able to tell you if cochlear implants will help. It’s important to understand that better hearing through a cochlear implant is a process, not a quick fix. With time and practice listening, your hearing will get better and better after getting a CI. But how fast you hear better depends on three things: (1) the technology used, (2) your hearing structures, and (3) hearing training and rehab after the surgery. We encourage you to speak with people who hear with cochlear implants to learn about their experiences.


Many features in AB’s cochlear implant systems are designed to help you enjoy music. In fact, many professional musicians choose our cochlear implants to help them hear and perform music.


They love listening to music on their phone. And then once you get them that connectivity to directly hear music, they love it. 

"I actually have a lot of patients who play musical instruments, and that's been amazing to me. They're in marching bands, they're in symphony orchestras, and things like that. …They love listening to music on their phone. And then once you get them that connectivity to directly hear music, they love it. So, that's been surprising to me because for years, we were told, oh, you really can't listen to music or music isn't good. But I have a lot of patients who, not only enjoy music but actually make music, and are, you know, participating very actively in music. So that's been really exciting."

– Jolie F, Audiologist

When you choose a cochlear implant system from AB, you will be able to upgrade to better external parts, like sound processors, in the future without more surgeries. So when technology gets better, you will still be able to take advantage of it.

Compared to many other surgeries, cochlear implant surgery is simple and minimally invasive. The surgery itself typically takes two to four hours. Because it’s done with general anesthesia, you will also spend additional time in the preparation and recovery areas.


I tell my patients that even though there is a risk, the CI will always improve their life and change their life after the surgery.

"Some of my patients are also afraid that they will lose their residual hearing after the surgery. Of course, this can happen, but it's not so often. With the new surgical techniques, with robot-assisted techniques and with a good HiRes design that we have now today, it's possible to preserve hearing in most of the cases. So, I tell my patients that even though there is a risk, the CI will always improve their life and change their life after the surgery."

– Dr. Yannik Nguyen, ENT Surgeon, Pitié-Salpêtrière University Hospital and The Hearing Institute, Paris France.

Depending on your situation and your doctor, you may go home the same day or spend the night in the hospital. Adults often return to work or typical daily activities within a few days after CI surgery. Your new CI will be activated, or “turned on,” two to four weeks after the implantation surgery, depending on how well you heal. Then, once it’s activated, you will start to hear through your new cochlear implant.


First, find out if a cochlear implant might help you by taking our candidacy quiz and speaking to a hearing health professional. From there, AB will have specialists who will answer all your questions, support you throughout implantation surgery, recovery, and activation. AB will also connect you with a mentor—someone who already hears with a cochlear implant so you can get their first-hand experience. Even after your CI is activated, our AB specialist will stay with you to make sure you get the most out of your CI with hearing training tools and resources. Further down the line, they’ll also make sure you won’t miss out on any upgrade opportunities to improve your hearing even further.


Yes, air travel is safe for people with cochlear implants. Metal detectors and security scanners should not damage the implant or sound processor. But, when you go through security metal detectors, your cochlear implant may activate the alarm.  That's why it’s helpful for you to carry your “Patient Emergency Identification Card” with you at all times. 


Yes! AB’s HiRes Ultra 3D Cochlear Implant is safe for up to 3.0 Tesla MRI scans without any preparation, surgery, or head bandaging. Simply take off your headpiece and sound processor before the MRI, and put them back on afterwards.


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  1. Advanced Bionics (2016) Bimodal StereoZoom Feature: Enhancing Conversation in Extreme Noise for Unilateral AB Implant Recipients White Paper.