Main content

    Health Information

    Cochlear Implants and Meningitis

    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 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.

    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
    Last Revised December 6, 2012

    This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

    1995-2013 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.