51. Cochlear Implants, Once a Luxury, Are Helping More People Hear | Dr. Rebecca Lewis

For people with hearing loss, properly-fitted hearing aids can be a miracle, restoring sounds of life that have been lost to aging or disease. But sometimes hearing aids aren’t enough, or a patient’s hearing deteriorates beyond the devices’ capabilities. Then, it’s time to consider cochlear implants—small electronic devices that go beyond hearing aids. They bypass damaged hair cells in the ear and send electronic signals straight to the auditory nerve. Dr. Rebecca Lewis is an audiologist who specializes in evaluating patients who might be eligible for cochlear implants. Until recently, doctors installed the devices only after people had lost almost all of their hearing. But because hearing is crucial to social connection, and social connection is key to staving off dementia, the bar for cochlear implants is coming down. Anyone who has tried a few sets of hearing aids and still can’t understand conversation should consider cochlear implants, Dr. Lewis says. Listen to this episode to learn some fascinating things about how our ears and nerves allow us to hear the world, and whether you or a family member should consider cochlear implants.