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Cochlear Implants and Meningitis - Topic Overview

Children who have cochlear implants have a higher risk of getting bacterial meningitis.1 A cochlear implant is a device is implanted in the inner ear to treat severe hearing loss that does not improve with hearing aids.

Experts think one or more factors may put some people with a cochlear implant at higher risk of meningitis than others with an implant. These include people who have:

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  • An abnormally formed inner ear.
  • Had previous meningitis infection.
  • Frequent ear infections.
  • A poorly functioning immune system.
  • Had previous ear or head surgery.

Investigators also are looking at whether the design of the implants contributes to development of meningitis.

To reduce the risk of getting meningitis, people with cochlear implants should get a pneumococcal vaccine (such as the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine(What is a PDF document?) or the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine(What is a PDF document?).1 Also, some people with implants had ear infections before they developed meningitis. For this reason, experts recommend that people with implants receive prompt antibiotic treatment for ear infections.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: December 06, 2012
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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