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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:

  • 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 vaccinepneumococcal conjugate vaccine(What is a PDF document?) or the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccinepneumococcal 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.

Related Information

References

Citations

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2012). Use of vaccines to prevent meningitis in persons with cochlear implants. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/mening/cochlear/dis-cochlear-gen.htm.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer W. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease
Current as of June 4, 2014

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