Cochlear Implant

This instruction sheet is designed to help you care for your ear(s) following surgery, and to answer many of the commonly asked questions. Please read the entire sheet carefully. Feel free to call us with questions or concerns you may have. If the nurse cannot address your concerns, a doctor will return your call or you may be asked to come to the office.

Leaving the Hospital

  • You will receive a prescription for pain medicine and sometimes an anti-nausea medicine and antibiotics.
  • The bandage should be removed the day following surgery.

Home Care - the First Few Days

  • The auricle (outer ear) can be wiped gently with a soft cloth or cotton swabs to remove dried blood, but if the ear is tender this is not necessary.
  • You may wash your hair 72 hours after surgery.
  • The incision behind the ear may be covered a thin layer of antibiotic ointment. Neosporin®, Polysporin®, Bacitracin®, etc. is helpful for the first few weeks.
  • Do not bend over for 1 week after surgery. If you must bend, bend from the knees, not head-first from the hips. This will prevent pressure build-up in the head.
  • Do not blow your nose for 1 week after surgery. Sniffing is okay. This is particularly important should you develop a cold. After 2 weeks you may blow your nose gently, one side at a time.
  • Sneeze or cough with your mouth open during the first week following surgery.
  • You may fly 3 days following surgery. Whenever you fly, take an over-the-counter decongestant 30-60 minutes before take-off. Before the airplane begins to descend, spray your nose with Neosynephrine® or Afrin® nasal spray. Use this procedure whenever you fly in the future. You may use the same treatment when traveling by car in a mountainous region.
  • No vigorous physical activity, including sports, until seen for your post-op visit. With the exception of these restrictions, you may return to work or school as overall condition permits.
  • After 3 weeks you may resume all activities, including sports and physical exercise while adhering to the restrictions recommended by the implant manufacturer.
  • You may hear a variety of noises in your ear such as cracking or popping. This is part of the normal healing process.
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness is normal for up to one week after surgery.
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ear) is also noted by some patients. This may improve with time.
  • Pain should begin to subside. You may continue taking Tylenol® or ibuprofen as needed.
  • It is normal for the top half of the ear to feel numb, and will take several months to return to normal.
  • There may be a change in taste (usually described as metallic) on one side of the tongue – this usually improves within a few months.

Call the office if you experience:

  • Increased pain not relieved by prescription medicines.
  • Large amounts of bleeding for the ear area.
  • Pus/foul-smelling drainage from the ear or incision.
  • Redness in the ear area.
  • Temperature over 101° on 2 consecutive readings.
  • Severe dizziness.