5 differences between my hearing aid and my Cochlear Implant

Ok, so, I’ve been activated for 48 hours now, and to make things simple I want to explain some of the differences I’ve noticed in the sound quality between my HA’s and my CI.

my hearing aid (Phonak Naída) on the left (left ear) and my Cochlear Implant (Cochlear Americas Nucleus 5) on the right (right ear)

1. The CI is much clearer.

I can only describe, with the high level of deafness I have achieved, the sound coming from my Hearing Aids (when I could still hear out of them) as muddy. Everything seemed to mix together, it was very hard to tell when one sound ended and another sound began. With the CI, it seems that things have… lines. I can tell where the sound of someone talking (even though the words don’t make sense yet) from the sound of the world around me.

2. Less low frequency but more high frequency with the CI.

with my hearing aid, I had a hard time, then an impossible time, hearing the high frequency sounds. Sounds like birds chirping, a flute or a piccolo, kids voices, for a long time they have been very foreign to me, meaning I haven’t been able to hear them. The f s th,  those are also  in the high frequency range, but in speech. My Audiologist turned down my high frequency for my CI, because those have been the longest for me to hear. With the hearing aid all the sounds were very low frequency, I was using sound recover to help try to bring things down for me to hear them, before all of my residual hearing ran away in the first place. With the CI it looks like the opposite effect, at least for now. Everything seems very high pitched, like I’m hearing… I don’t know, wind chimes or something. I know this will eventually level out, but it is rather odd to go from hearing mostly low frequency, to absolutely nothing, to mostly high frequency… my brain is still trying to wrap its head around it.

3. More things seem to make noise now

less things made noise with my hearing aids, especially the last year or so. I haven’t heard footsteps, haven’t heard blinkers, haven’t heard keys typing, haven’t heard… somethings people talk about all the time, the doorbell ringing, a chip bag, cars honking, doors opening and closing… but those things are starting to make noise now, at least for me. I’m not use to all the noise, and it can get a little overwhelming at times. I’m use to knowing when someone is talking by their lips moving, or my eardrums vibrating, but now i am hearing their voices, just not knowing what those sounds mean.

4. it doesn’t seem as loud as when I first got the HA, but there is more noise

I remember coming out of the room when I got a new set of hearing aids, and every thing was so… loud. Its not as loud with the CI, its not as distorted, but there is more noise. I don’t know if this will make sense to many people… but more noise doesn’t equal loud, its just more. I’m not sure I ever really got use to hearing from my aids (even though I used them for years), but when I wake up, put my CI on, its a bit loud, but my brain eventually (within the first 30 minutes) understands its not really loud. Life always seemed loud (when I could hear under 100 db) with my hearing aid, it didn’t matter, it never settled down. If my audiologist turned the volume to a point where it didn’t seem loud, I couldn’t detect speech, I couldn’t detect sounds at an “appropriate” volume… I couldn’t hear my own voice. With the CI, that is different. My job doesn’t seem loud, my home doesn’t seem loud, even my car, it doesn’t seem loud, there is noise, but it isn’t loud, and that is actually very nice.

5. I can’t zoom

One thing I got very use to with my hearing aids was the zoom feature. I could zoom from one side to another, in front of me behind me. This was nice in a noisy environment, this was nice when I was in the car, it was… nice. with the CI I can’t do this, at least not yet. This feature, although not a sound quality thing, is something I really did like, and something, hearing wise, I could brag about over my hearing friends. Noise that was coming in from one ear, would be automatically sent to the other. This was very nice when I was using the phone, I would use VRS (Video Relay) with VCO (Voice Cary Over), put my hearing aids in zoom, and then hear what the person was saying in both ears as well as be able to see the interpreter for the majority of my understanding. I can’t do that with my CI, I’m not sure if I will be able to do that with my CI… but it was very nice.

So far, I am really liking the CI much better than I liked my hearing aids, ever. I still can’t understand anything, but… that’s the differences I can explain after 2 days, later I should have more.

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3 thoughts on “5 differences between my hearing aid and my Cochlear Implant

  1. Your CI is so fancy!!

    So happy to hear that it’s going well for you. I know what you mean about hearing aids being overwhelming, especially at first.

    • Thanks. and yes, it is fancy. The only issue I have with the cover is that it requires the standard sized battery, I’m liking the compact better because it is lighter on my ear. The covers come in smaller sizes for the compact, I just haven’t put in an order yet.

      Until I really became “un-aidable” things were loud, I am fairly sure I had an issue with recruitment, because loud sounds became very very loud very quickly. It was actually a major relief, as well as a bit terrifying, when I could no longer hear things from them. The ear drum vibrating is… not a nicer sensation, but much quieter than life with hearing aids.

  2. This was so interesting – I’ve often wondered about Cochlear….

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