When You’re Hospitalized, Hearing Loss Can Lead to Complications

Female doctor communicating with older man who has hearing loss in wheelchair examining reports at the hospital corridor.

Tom is getting a new knee and he’s really jazzed! Look, as you grow older, the types of things you look forward to change. He will be capable of moving around more freely and will have less pain with his new knee. So Tom is admitted, the operation is a success, and Tom goes home!

That’s when things take a turn.

Unfortunately, the healing process doesn’t go very well. Tom ends up back in the hospital with an infection and will need another surgery. Tom isn’t as excited by this point. The doctors and nurses have come to the realization that Tom wasn’t adhering to their advice and instructions for recovery.

Tom didn’t purposely deviate from the guidelines. The problem is that he didn’t hear them. It turns out that there is a solid link between hospital visits and hearing loss, so Tom isn’t by himself.

Hearing loss can result in more hospital visits

The typical drawbacks of hearing loss are something that most individuals are already acquainted with: you grow more distant from your loved ones, you raise your risk of social isolation, and have an increased danger of developing dementia. But we’re finally beginning to understand some of the less evident disadvantages to hearing loss.

One of those relationships that’s becoming more apparent is that hearing loss can result in an increase in emergency room visits. One study discovered that people with hearing loss have a 17% higher risk of needing a trip to the emergency room and a 44% increased risk of readmission later.

Is there a connection?

There are a couple of reasons why this might be.

  • Your situational awareness can be impacted negatively by neglected hearing loss. Anything from a stubbed toe to a car accident will be more likely to take place if you’re not aware of your surroundings. These types of injuries can, of course, land you in the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).
  • Your possibility of readmission significantly increases once you’re in the hospital. Readmission occurs when you are released from the hospital, spend some time at home, and then need to go back to the hospital. Complications sometimes happen that lead to this readmission. In other instances, readmission may result from a new problem, or because the original issue wasn’t addressed correctly.

Increased risk of readmission

Why is readmission more likely for individuals who have untreated hearing loss? This happens for a couple of reasons:

  • When your nurses and doctors give you instructions you might not hear them very well because of your untreated hearing loss. For instance, if you can’t hear what your physical therapist is telling you to do, you will be unable to do your physical therapy treatment as well as you otherwise would. Whether you’re still in the hospital or at home, your recovery time could be greatly increased.
  • If you can’t hear your recovery instructions, you won’t know how to care for yourself as you continue recovering at home. If you can’t hear the instructions (and particularly if you’re not aware that you aren’t hearing your instructions properly), you’re more likely to reinjure yourself.

For example, let’s say you’ve recently had knee replacement surgery. Maybe you’re not supposed to take a shower for three weeks but you thought your doctor said three days. And you might find yourself back in the hospital with a serious infection.

Keeping track of your hearing aids

The answer might seem straight-forward at first glance: just use your hearing aids! Regrettably, hearing loss usually progresses very gradually, and those with hearing loss may not always realize they are experiencing symptoms. The solution here is to schedule a hearing test with us.

Even after you’ve taken the steps and invested in a set of hearing aids, there’s still the chance you may lose them. Hospital trips are frequently quite chaotic. Which means there’s lots of potential of losing your hearing aids. You will be better able to stay involved in your care when you’re in the hospital if you know how to deal with your hearing aid.

Tips for bringing your hearing aids with you during a hospital stay

Knowing how to get ready for a hospital stay when you’re dealing with hearing loss can prevent a lot of headaches (and other discomfort) in the future. There are some easy things you can do:

  • Keep your eye on your battery’s charge. Bring spares if you need them and charge your hearing aids when you can.
  • Make sure that the hospital staff is aware of your hearing loss. Miscommunication will be less likely if they are well notified about your situation.
  • In a hospital environment, you should always advocate for yourself and ask your loved ones to advocate for you.
  • Wear your hearing aids whenever you can, and when you aren’t using them, make sure to keep them in the case.
  • Don’t forget your case. It’s really important to have a case for your hearing aids. They will be able to be better cared for that way.

The trick here is to communicate with the hospital at every stage. Your doctors and nurses should be made aware of your hearing loss.

Hearing loss can cause health issues

It’s important to acknowledge that your hearing health and your general health are closely linked. After all, your hearing can have a substantial affect on your overall health. Hearing loss is like any other health issue in that it needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

The power to avoid Tom’s fate is in your hands. Keep your hearing aids close the next time you need to go in for a hospital stay.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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