7 Ways To Prevent Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

7 Ways To Prevent Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HPV is currently the most common sexually transmitted viral infection that stands to be life-threatening if ignored for too long. 


Scary, right? 


Well, there are over 100 types of HPV, but not all of them will manifest as health issues. But certain types can lead to various kinds of cancers. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to be on the safe side and know how to keep yourself safe from this infection. 


You can prevent the human papillomavirus from getting to you in various ways by practising some easy habits and adapting to a healthier lifestyle. 


Tips To Prevent Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

 

ways to prevent hpv

 

Here are seven golden ways to prevent the human papillomavirus from wreaking havoc on your body.


1. Get Vaccinated


The HPV vaccine offers protection against the most cancerous types of HPV, hence protecting you from falling victim to cervical cancers and other HPV-related cancers (including anal, cervical, and oral cancers). In addition, the HPV vaccine can also offer protection against genital warts.


It is recommended to be vaccinated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to get the vaccine shots before exposure to sexually transmitted strains of HPV. The vaccine is certified and approved for girls, boys, women, and men ages 9 to 45.


2. Use Condoms


Don’t devoid yourself of the pleasure of sex but do it with protection. It’s essential to use condoms, especially when having intercourse with multiple partners, to prevent the virus from being transmitted into you.


Condoms serve as a barrier and prevent the entry of HPV into your body while you enjoy safe sexual intercourse. So it’s better to properly use latex condoms to reduce the risk of transmission of HPV by a proper margin.


3. Get Circumcised


Getting circumcised helps lower the risk of transmission of HPV from person to person. A variety of studies show that circumcised men have a lower risk of transmitting the HPV virus. But on the contrary, several studies also show how circumcised men may have a ten-fold more significant risk of contracting HPV than uncircumcised men. 


Simply put, just getting the males circumcised is not the end of the deal. The powerful duo of circumcision and vaccination can get the job done quite nicely. Therefore, parents need to ensure that they are getting their boys vaccinated to prevent the transmission of HPV completely.


4. Practise Regular Testing


The best way to save yourself from any disease is by ensuring monthly screening or testing. You should practice regular testing and ensure that your disease is caught up in time. The penile or cervical swab is the gold standard to confirm if you have contracted the human papillomavirus or not.


Ensure to get bi-annually tested if you do not indulge in intercourse with multiple partners. However, make getting tested a monthly habit if you have multiple partners, just to be on the safe side.


5. Maintain A Healthy Lifestyle


What is there that maintaining a healthy lifestyle cannot save you from? 


Regularly exercising, eating a balanced diet, ensuring proper hygiene and cleaning your private parts can extend your life expectancy by several years. These habits will enable you to have a better and longer life expectancy even if you contract some disease. 


Moreover, including fruits, fibre, and water in your diet will make your bowel and urinary movements easier and better, cleansing your body of toxins as much as possible.


6. Stop Smoking Or Doing Drugs


The ability of your immune system to fight off viruses decreases if your lung function is compromised, and that’s what smoking or drugs do to your system. Hence, prevent yourself from summoning the angel of death earlier than expected and quit smoking as soon as possible.


7. Practice Safe Sex At All Costs


At any age, make sure you do not have any reservations about having sex for whatsoever reason. Moreover, if you do, it’s better to abstain than continue indulging in sexual intercourse. 


Make sure you are using protection and also ensuring proper screening and testing. So that even if the virus lingers in on you, it can be caught early and treated to prevent genital warts or progression of disease from happening. 


Health Problems Caused By HPV


It’s crucial to understand that an insurgent HPV infection can lead to several health issues like cancer, ultimately life-threatening. This is the reason they are supposed to be timely screened and tested. 


Following are some deadly cancers that the human papillomavirus may cause:


  • Cervical cancer
  • Anal cancer
  • Genital warts
  • Oropharyngeal cancer
  • Vulvar & vaginal cancer

Conclusion

 

men and women standing in a row

 

HPV infection is quite common, and most people do contract it at some point. However, it’s your immune system and daily habits that determine if it’s going to get nasty or not. If you are practising healthy and clean habits, taking proper protection, and ensuring that you get tested and screened if and when required, you are likely to be as safe from the viral effects as possible.


Contracting the human papillomavirus can be harmful. In addition, it may bring some emotional turmoil with itself. But by following the preventive measures described above, you can save yourself from falling victim to its deadly effects and consequences.  


HPV or any other viral disease can cause various problems, especially cancers, never good news. They bring mental and physical stress with themselves. Moreover, contracting a deadly virus can cause family problems and social problems at work or with friends, making one very self-conscious.


However, trying your best to have a healthy lifestyle by practising safe sex and getting vaccinated can undoubtedly help protect you from this virus. HPV is certainly deadly but nothing that can’t be tackled or overcome. So, protect yourself and your partner by the following prevention as it’s certainly better than cure.

 

What is Human Papillomavirus? HPV Types, Causes, and Symptoms

What is Human Papillomavirus? HPV Types, Causes, and Symptoms


The Human Papillomavirus, more commonly known as the HPV, is a group of non-enveloped DNA viruses whose members are known as papillomaviruses. Alongside humans, this virus is also found in other vertebrates such as snakes, birds, and turtles.


Let’s look at the causes and symptoms of this lethal infection – and what you can do to treat it.


Human Papillomavirus: An Overview


The Human Papillomavirus is the most typical sexually transmitted infection. It is easily spread through skin-to-skin contact (mostly sex) from those who already are infected with it. Therefore, if you are sexually active, you might get it at some point in your life.


HPV affects your genitals, mouth, and throat area. It also attacks the site, such as the skin across the penis, vagina, vulva (the area around the vagina), rectum and anus.


In most cases, this virus is not dangerous and goes away on its own, but some of its types can cause cancers and other damaging problems in your body. However, unlike AIDs, there are vaccines available for patients with HPV. So there is no need to be scared or ashamed if you contract the HPV virus.


Types Of Human Papillomavirus


According to the research, there are more than a hundred types of the HPV virus. 40 of these types are transferred through sexual activity, while the other 60 cause warts on the hands and feet.


In case you might be asking yourself, warts are a type of skin infection caused by HPV. These infections are responsible for the rough, skin-coloured bumps that form on the skin. Since the virus is heavily contagious, you can quickly get warts if you touch someone who has warts on their skin.


HPV 6 and HPV 11 are the low-risk types of HPV. As they can’t harm you a lot, getting vaccinated before you become sexually active is better.


HPV 16 and HPV 18 are regarded as the high-risk types. This is because HPV 16 causes symptoms of cervical cancer, whereas HPV 18 can develop into cervical cancer. However, with the promising procedure of vaccination, even these types of HPV can protect against cancers.


Remember, vaccination saves lives!


Causes Of HPV Virus

 

HPV infection

 

As mentioned before, HPV spreads through physical contact – aka skin contact. It can also enter your body through a cut, bruise or wound. That means whether you have oral, anal or vaginal sex, you’ll most likely contract the virus.


Having a range of signs and symptoms is also not necessary for the infected person. Therefore, you might get it without even knowing. 


Let’s look into some more in-depth causes.


1. Quantity of Sexual Partners


Though HPV can spread even if you have sex with a single person, having sex with more than one person is alarming. The more partners you have, the higher the chances are of you contracting the virus.


That is why; it would be better if you tone down the number of people you are actively participating with.


2. Age


Age is also a factor when it comes to the causes of HPV. Typical warts occur in young kids. These warts can surface on the hands or feet. As for young adolescents and adults, genital warts appear.


Though warts are not painful, some types of them can cause pain. In addition, they cause itchiness and can bleed too. Hence, one must stay alert while dealing with warts.


3. Delicate Immune Systems


People who don’t eat right and don’t have a healthy lifestyle can be at a greater risk of the virus. Since eating good and healthy builds your immune system, you become prone to many diseases.


As for the HPV virus, a delicate and weak immune system is like an open invitation. You must have a robust immune system to avoid getting this virus in the first place. 


4. Direct Contact


Please, don’t touch somebody’s warts. Not only is it unhygienic, but also life-threatening. Touching someone else’ warts and not wearing protection before coming in contact with surfaces exposed to the virus can put you at high risk.


Symptoms Of HPV

 

HPV warts

 

After contracting this virus, it takes years before the symptoms finally appear. The body gets rid of it in most cases, and you won’t even get to know. However, you should suspect HPV if you’ve developed the following symptoms:


1. Genital Warts


Genital Warts are usually flat or raised bumps. In men, these appear on the penis, scrotum, or anus. In women, these occur around the vagina, the vulva, cervix, and anus. These types of warts rarely cause pain or discomfort, but they may be itchy and tender.


2. Common Warts


These show up as rough bumps and usually appear on the hands and fingers. Common warts can be painful in some cases and cause bleeding too.


3. Flat Warts


Flat warts are spots with a flat top. These can appear anywhere, but they are common around the face and legs.


4. Plantar Warts


Plantar warts are hard bumps that show up on the heels of your feet. They can cause pain and discomfort.


Diagnosis

 

blood in a DNA test tube

 

There are several ways through which you can find out whether you have contracted the virus or not. Here are some of the methods mentioned below.


1. Physical Exam


In a physical exam, the doctor will look at genital warts that might have appeared around your vaginal or penis area. It is the easiest and the most convenient method out of all the other options.


2. DNA Test


If you are a woman, then the DNA test can be conducted on your cervix cells. That can determine whether you have any HPV that can lead to cancer. This method is allotted to women above 30, followed by a Pap smear test.


3. Pap Smear


Women above 30 are advised to do a DNA test followed by a Pap smear test. Your doctor will collect some samples from your vagina or cervix to send to the laboratory.


Pap tests can catch on to problems early on, such as abnormal cells potentially leading to cancer.


4. Colposcopy


Colposcopy is a medical procedure where the doctor looks at your cervix and vagina. The doctor visually examines it through a colposcope.

The process usually is pain-free and is used to find any abnormalities in your cervix. However, you might feel pressure when the speculum goes inside or a minor burn or sting if they wash your area with a vinegar-type solution.


Conclusion


The HPV virus is common and can happen to anyone sexually active. But getting vaccinated beforehand would prove fruitful in the long run.

Fortunately, being updated on topics like HPV can help you stay away from numerous other vicious infections in the long run.

 

Heart Palpitations After Eating: Guide To Foods & Conditions That Cause Heart Pounding

Heart Palpitations After Eating: Guide To Foods & Conditions That Cause Heart Pounding


If you have ever felt a “flutter” in your heart after eating something, it means heart palpitations have made an appearance in your life. 


Heart palpitations are defined as the loud and irregular beating of the heart. You’re able to feel this pounding and thumping of your heart. While there can be numerous conditions that can lead to this, we will talk about food items being the cause of this.


Let’s look at the ingredients, drugs, supplements and various other causes of heart palpitations and what you can do to control them.


Foods That Cause Heart Palpitations


Now that you know what heart palpitations feel like – have you ever experienced them after consuming a meal? If yes, then the primary cause for this is food sensitivity.


Food sensitivity is your body’s allergic response to certain edible items. It’s pretty normal to be allergic to foods you consume daily and not know about it. However, when the allergic reaction is strong, there are high chances of you experiencing some of the following symptoms:


  • Headache
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhoea
  • Migraines

– and heart palpitations as well.


1. Chocolate & Caffeine


Have you felt like your heart will burst right out of the ribcage just after you’ve had some delicious chocolate? Well, the culprit here is the chocolate. And if you want to avoid this disturbing feeling, it’d be a wise decision to give up on chocolate once and for all.


Usually, it’s not chocolate but soy, cocoa, milk, caffeine, or other essential ingredients that can trigger this reaction. Moreover, food items like caffeine, tea, soda or energy drinks can also trigger heart palpitations along with other body responses.


2. Tyramine


Tyramine is an amino acid that is found in pepperoni, cheese, sausages and even salami. This amino acid is responsible for maintaining blood pressure and occurs naturally in our bodies. In high amounts, it can lead to increased pressure and, therefore, heart palpitations.


3. Alcohol


Our heart functions in a well-coordinated manner. It conveys the electrical signals in an organised fashion, and alcohol is known to disrupt this pattern. Because of this, there are chances of experiencing irregular heartbeats.


Also, alcohol dilates the blood vessels as well. When this happens, the blood pumped and received by the blood increases, leading to high blood pressure and eventually heart palpitations. If faced with such issues, especially after drinking alcohol, it’s about time you stopped drinking alcohol.


4. High-Sodium Foods


Did you notice your heart racing like crazy after you eat something very salty? It could be salted nuts, potato chips, canned products with added/extra salt. If yes, then you probably are consuming too much salt.


Sodium can raise blood pressure, and while taking large quantities is never a good habit. In addition, it can lead to heart palpitations and even more severe issues in individuals with food sensitivity.


5. Carb-Rich Meals


We all consume carbohydrates daily. Be it breakfast, lunch or dinner – it’s the staple food almost everyone eats. 


Bad news?


Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose which is the primary form of sugar. High levels of sugar in the body can cause heart irregularities.


6. Herbal Supplements


Herbal supplements like hawthorn, bitter orange, ginseng, ephedra, and valerian can also increase heart rate.


Other Conditions that Can Cause Heart Palpitations

 

drugs and medications

 

Apart from foods, following are some of the substances and conditions that may trigger heart palpitations:


1. Drugs And Medications


Certain medications and drugs can cause arrhythmias (i.e. increased heartbeat). They could be as simple as the OTC cold & flu medications or illegal, intoxicating drugs. Such stimulants can be incredibly dangerous for you, and it’s better to steer away from them.


2. Hormonal Imbalance


Well, hormonal changes can be pretty dramatic. And one of their dramas is in the form of heart palpitations. Women usually experience them during the menstrual cycle, menopause or pregnancy.


3. Lifestyle & Emotions


Undoubtedly, lifestyle and emotions can have a significant impact on your heart. For example, if you’re habitual of leading a relaxed, laid-back and sedentary lifestyle, small activities like jogging can cause heart palpitations.


Moreover, emotions like never-ending stress and constant bouts of sadness can also cause heart problems. Therefore, it’s necessary to keep your emotions in check and not watch a horror movie at night if you are terrified.  


Manage Your Issue


You probably wouldn’t be aware of having food sensitivity. It could be because the heart palpitations would not be very intense and subside in a short period. However, if you have started to notice them and want to know if it’s food sensitivity or not – there’s a way to manage it easily.


Maintaining a food diary is your best shot. It may sound like child’s play, but it’s incredibly time-consuming and challenging to maintain. However, at the end of the day, it’s pretty helpful. You can keep track of what and when you ate and if it caused your heart to race or not.


Monitoring your diet can prove to be incredibly helpful when you’re trying to figure out the root of your heart palpitations. Keeping a record means you can show it to your doctor and have problems diagnosed quite efficiently.


When To Seek Professional Help?


Heart palpitations typically fade away after some time, and you can get back to your everyday routine life. However, if the heart palpitations can get too bad, it’s essential to seek professional medical help as soon as possible.


Here are the following symptoms that require immediate attention:


  • Shortness of breath
  • Immense chest pain
  • Profuse sweating
  • Dizziness & lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • Altered mental state (confusion)
  • Tightness in jaw, neck, arms, and chest

Conclusion


Heart palpitations can be incredibly disturbing and worrying. If you’re experiencing them regularly, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional and discuss your issue.


Keeping a food diary with proper tracking of all the meals and supplements consumed over a week can significantly help reach a conclusion. Also, it can help in pointing out food allergies or any other condition that may be causing heart palpitations.


While it isn’t a grave issue but, if it bothers you – well, it’s high time to correct it once and for all.

 

White Bumps In Baby’s Mouth: What Do They Indicate?

White Bumps In Baby’s Mouth: What Do They Indicate?


Let’s say that you’ve noticed these white-coloured bumps on your baby’s gums or their mouth’s roof. You’ll probably think of the first thing that comes to your mind, which is: “Are my baby’s teeth showing up earlier than usual?” Well, the answer is no.


While there are a few exceptions, most babies start teething around six months. If you notice some nodules/bumps/cysts/pimples before six months, they are not teeth. These are cysts of oral cavities. 


Let’s take a look at them and understand the process behind their appearance, when they disappear, and what you can do to treat them.


Types Of White Bumps In Baby’s Mouth


These whitish bumps in your baby’s mouth are not harmful and are usually of five types – with Epstein pearls being the most common of them.


Here are the following cysts that you should know about:


1. Epstein Pearls


Usually, 60-85% of oral cysts are Epstein pearls. It’s a kind of gingival cyst that occurs in babies born to mothers above 40 years, babies who are heavier and born after the due date. However, they do not interfere with the usual teething process of your child.


Among the different racial groups, Japanese newborns are most commonly affected by Epstein pearls, followed by Caucasians and African-Americans.


Causes


Certain factors do influence the development of Epstein pearls, but there are no specific causes.


The appearance of Epstein pearls is primarily a developmental defect in newborns. During the 10th–11th week, when the nasal process and palate are about to assume their full form, multiple layers of the skin can sometimes get trapped between them.


As the mouth continues to develop, keratin (the protein found in your hair and nails) starts to deposit in the trapped layers of the skin. This leads to the formation of keratin-filled cysts known as Epstein pearls.


Symptoms


Usually, Epstein pearls form in groups of 2-6 and appear as whitish-yellowish bumps. You can confuse them with teeth, but Epstein pearls don’t cause any discomfort or irritation, unlike teething.


You’ll most likely notice these during feeding or when your baby yawns. They are benign, asymptomatic cysts that do not interfere with feeding or teething.


Diagnosis and Treatment


There are no particular tests to diagnose Epstein pearls. Instead, they are diagnosed clinically upon examination, and no further investigations are required.


As far as the treatment is concerned – there’s no treatment plan for Epstein pearls. They will usually regress or rupture within a few weeks to three months. Once they do, all the built-up keratin is released and eventually flushed out of your baby’s system.  


Friction from feeding or sucking on a pacifier can also contribute to the rupture of Epstein pearls.


2. Bohn’s Nodules


Bohn’s Nodules can be confused with Epstein pearls, but they are not the same. Like Epstein bumps, these are keratin-filled cysts as well. However, they are the remnants of salivary glands.


These types of cysts are located on the lingual and buccal aspects of alveolar ridges. On the other hand, Bohn’s nodules are true epithelial cysts, with mucous glands of the mouth being their favourite site for making an appearance.


3. Congenital Epulis


Congenital epulis is a rare condition characterised by a reddish mass ranging from a few millimetres to a few centimetres. It is a benign tumour that can cause respiratory or feeding problems.


It’s soft, located on the gingival margin, and attaches to the tissue via a stem-like appendage. The only treatment option for congenital epulis is surgical resection making it unlikely to make a comeback.


4. Dental Lamina Cysts


Dental lamina cysts are unstable, solitary lesions that are incredibly transparent. They are more significant in size than Epstein pearls and often go away after a short period.


Their site of development is the crest of the alveolar mucosa in the oral cavities of babies.


5. Natal Teeth


As the name suggests, natal teeth are teeth that are present when the baby is born. They usually represent some developmental anomaly and require immediate medical attention.


Since natal teeth are loose at the root, they can be easily knocked off during feeding – allowing the baby to swallow them. Therefore, they need to be extracted as soon as possible.


Your Approach As A Parent

 

a mother taking care of her baby with cysts

 

For starters – don’t panic. Panicking is not going to help with your baby’s problem. Epstein pearls don’t pose any threat and regress after a few weeks. So, it’s more likely that the paediatrician would ask you to stay put and watch the bumps wither away.


However, it would help if you didn’t try to pop these bumps. It is so because popping these cysts can expose them to opportunistic microorganisms that can cause serious infections. Thus, leading to more problems and complications for the baby that may actually harm your baby.


So please, don’t do that


When Should You Seek Professional Help?


If your baby develops any of the following symptoms, seek help from a paediatrician as soon as possible:


  • Bumps start bleeding
  • The baby looks pretty irritated and agitated
  • Bumps don’t appear to disappear after a month
  • Baby looks like they are in a lot of pain/discomfort

It’s best to get professional help as soon as you can. Since these pearls do not intend to cause any discomfort to your baby – if they do, it means there’s something wrong.


It’s fairly easy to confuse Epstein pearls with other conditions as well. For example, cysts like dental lamina cysts, congenital epulis and Bohn’s nodules can be mistaken for Epstein pearls. Along with infections like oral thrush, which is a yeast infection primarily involving the mouth.


Therefore, it’s always better to have your queries answered by a doctor.


Conclusion


We understand how concerning any issue regarding your baby can be. In this case, the appearance of the Epstein pearls is indeed worrying for many parents. However, please know that your baby is not in pain and that these bumps usually resolve independently.


However, if there’s any pain or discomfort – we’d advise you to get your baby checked by a professional healthcare provider.

 

5 Cinnamon Side Effects You Must Know

5 Cinnamon Side Effects You Must Know

 


Famous for multiple health benefits, cinnamon has become a common ingredient in every household. Many people consume these kinds of herbs and spices to promote mind and body wellness. If prescribed by a doctor, their supplements can also be an excellent way to give your body a boost of vitamins and minerals that you may not get in your regular intake. 


However, while cinnamon may have huge benefits, consuming it in large quantities is not a great idea. Some supplements do also have potential side effects, so it’s essential to educate yourself. 


In this article, we’ll discuss some of the possible side effects of cinnamon – Let’s get started!


Health Benefits Of Cinnamon


When consumed in optimal amounts, cinnamon can provide several health benefits. Some of them are:


  • Cinnamon might help improve insulin sensitivity in fat and muscle tissues, increase glucose uptake, and improve glycogen synthesis in the liver – making it easier for the human body to regulate blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. 
  • Cinnamon can reduce inflammation, which helps in relieving soreness and pain. 
  • Some studies indicate cinnamon might help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
  • It contains large amounts of polyphenol antioxidants. Antioxidants help protect your body by lowering or preventing the effects of free radicals.
  • It might also slow down the growth of cancerous cells.

Side Effects of Too Much Cinnamon

 

cinnamon picture

 

Several studies have indicated that eating too much Cassia cinnamon has been linked to several side effects.


Here are five possible side effects of overeating Cassia cinnamon:


1. Liver Damage


Cinnamon is known to have nearly 5% of coumarin. Several studies have found that overeating coumarin may cause liver damage, particularly in people with pre-existing liver disease. It can even lead to liver failure and eventually death. 


2. Low Blood Sugar


Another significant side effect of too much cinnamon is that it can drop your blood sugar too low, which can cause:


  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Shakiness
  • Anxiety

People with diabetes definitely undergo medications. If such individuals take cinnamon along with diabetic medicine, it lowers the blood sugar levels to an extreme level resulting in serious health hazards. So make sure you control this as much as possible, especially during medications.


3. Allergies And Mouth Sores


Some individuals are allergic to cinnamon due to high sensitivity to the proteins in the spice. 


Cinnamon contains cinnamaldehyde that can cause allergic reactions, including mouth sores. Some other cinnamon allergy symptoms may include skin irritation and stomach ache every time you ingest it.


4. Breathing Problems


Accidentally inhaling cinnamon can cause coughing, gagging, and trouble when trying to catch your breath. Also, since the cinnamaldehyde in cinnamon is a throat irritant, it may provoke further breathing problems.


Remember that people with asthma (or other medical conditions that cause breathing problems) need to be very careful of accidentally inhaling cinnamon, as they are more likely to experience difficulty breathing.


5. Interactions With Certain Medications


It is safe to eat cinnamon in small to moderate quantities with most medicines. However, taking too much of it may cause an issue if you take heart disease, diabetes, or liver disease medications. This is because cinnamon may interact with those medications and enhance their side effects. 


So make sure to talk to your doctor if you have diabetes before taking cinnamon supplements. Also, if you are taking any medications that affect your liver, abstain from cinnamon supplements to avoid negative interactions.


Summing Up


While overeating cinnamon may have some potential side effects, it’s a healthy spice that’s safe to eat in moderate amounts. Consuming less than the tolerable daily intake (0.1 mg/kg/day) is more than enough to provide you with its health benefits.


It’s always best to talk to your doctor if you want to use cinnamon as a supplement for its health benefits, especially if you’re taking other medications.

 

Everything You Want To Know About Cochlear Implants

Everything You Want To Know About Cochlear Implants

 

A cochlear implant is a small, complex electronic device that partially restores hearing to the damaged parts of the ear. It utilises internal and external systems to help deaf people process sounds and speech. 


This article will explain everything about cochlear implants, including how they work and their risks, and provide some valuable tips on wearing a cochlear implant.


So let’s get started!


Overview


A cochlear implant helps restore hearing caused by severe injury to the inner ear. Usually, people who need a cochlear implant find regular hearing aids to be of no use. This is mainly because these two devices work differently. Hearing aids amplify sound while cochlear implants communicate directly with the auditory nerve in order to produce sound and restore hearing.


Cochlear Implant Parts


The cochlear implant contains an external component that sits behind the ear and an internal device implanted under the skin through surgery. In addition, it has the following parts:


  1. A microphone — picks up an input speech signal from the surroundings.
  2. A speech processor — selects and arranges picked up sounds from the microphone.
  3. A transmitter and receiver — receives signals from the speech processor and moulds them into electric impulses.
  4. An electrode array — gathers the electrical impulses from the receiver and passes them to various regions of the auditory nerve.

How Does A Cochlear Implant Work?


Here’s how a cochlear implant works:


  1. It decodes sound through electronic messages received from the external device worn behind the ear. 
  1. These electronic messages are processed and transmitted to the inner component placed at the auditory nerve. 
  1. From here, the cochlear nerve transmits electronic sound patterns to the brain, where they can be identified as speech and partially restore hearing.

However, like any other new language, the implant recipient has to learn these sound patterns to identify and experience them as regular hearing.


Cochlear Implant Surgery Procedure

 

cochlear implant illustration

 

How To Prepare


Cochlear implant surgery is done under general anaesthesia. It means that you will be in a sleep-like state during the surgery. However, you might need to:


  • Stop using specific medications/supplements for a certain amount of time.
  • Avoid consuming food or drinking water for a certain amount of time.

Besides that, your doctor will give specific instructions to help you prepare.


Before The Procedure


Before proceeding, you will require a comprehensive medical evaluation to determine whether cochlear implants are the best option for you or not. Your doctor will conduct an assessment that may include:


  • A physical examination of your inner ear.
  • Tests of hearing, speech, and sometimes the sense of balance.
  • CT or MRI imaging to determine the inner ear structure and cochlea condition.
  • Psychological testing in some cases to determine a person’s ability to learn to use a cochlear implant.

During The Procedure


Your surgeon will make an incision behind your ear and a tiny hole in the portion of the skull bone where the internal component rests.


After that, they will create a small opening in the cochlea to thread the electrode of the internal component. Next, the skin incision is stitched closed so that the internal device is beneath your skin.


After The Procedure


After the cochlear implant surgery, you might experience:


  • Pressure or discomfort over the implanted ears
  •  Nausea or dizziness

Usually, people feel well enough to return home the day of surgery or the next day. However, to give the surgery section some time to heal, an audiologist won’t activate the cochlear implants for about 2 to 6 weeks after your surgery.


Activation


In order to activate the cochlear implant, an audiologist will:


  • Adjust the sound processor to fit you.
  • Check the parts of the cochlear implant to ensure they work fine.
  • Determine what sounds you hear.
  • Set the device in a way that you will hear to the best of your ability.
  • Provide you with the information on the proper care and use of the device.

Results


The results of the cochlear implant surgery vary from person to person. 


For children, it would be beneficial if they get a cochlear implant at a young age. However, for adults, the best results are usually associated with a brief period of profound hearing loss before getting a cochlear implant. Meanwhile, adults with little or no familiarity with sound may benefit less from cochlear implants.


After getting a cochlear implant, some predicted outcomes may include clearer hearing and improved tinnitus (ear noise). Although ear noise (tinnitus) is not a fundamental reason to get a cochlear implant, the cochlear implant may partially suppress or improve tinnitus severity during use. In some cases, it can also worsen tinnitus severity.


Cochlear Implant Risks


Generally, cochlear implant surgery is considered to be safe, but there are some risks to be aware of: 


  • Possible loss of residual hearing.
  • Possible meningitis (vaccinations are recommended).
  • Occasionally, another surgery to fix a faulty device.

Rarely, post-surgery cochlear implant risks may include:


  • Paralysis of the face
  • Infection at the incision
  • Problems with balance

Daily Cochlear Implant Use

 

child with a cochlear implant

 

You can remove the external system of your cochlear implant when you need to sleep or take a shower – without difficulty! The internal component is beneath your skin, so you don’t need to worry about being uncomfortable or getting it wet. 


It is recommended to remove the device before bed as it can make sleeping uncomfortable and could fall off or get damaged. Furthermore, if you like swimming, you should opt for a waterproof device (you can discuss this with your cochlear plant audiologist).


Summing Up


Cochlear implants can partially restore hearing and are most often beneficial for children. However, speech and everyday environmental noises will sound different from what you remember. Your brain needs time to recognise what these sounds mean. This ongoing process is best achieved if you continually wear the speech processor during your waking hours.


Don’t forget to consult with an audiology specialist and ask them all the related questions to determine if a cochlear implant is right for you.