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 excited, he’s getting a new knee! Hey, the things you look forward to change as you age. His knee replacement means he will experience less pain and be able to get out and about a lot better. So Tom goes in, the operation is a success, and Tom goes home!

But that’s not the end of it.

The knee doesn’t heal as well as it should. Tom ends up back in the hospital with an infection and will require another surgery. It’s becoming less thrilling for Tom by the minute. The nurses and doctors have come to the realization that Tom wasn’t adhering to their advice and guidelines for recovery.

Tom didn’t purposely deviate from the guidelines. The issue is that he didn’t hear them. Tom can feel a little better in the fact that he’s not alone: there’s a strong connection between hospital visits and hearing loss.

Hearing loss can contribute to more hospital visits

The common drawbacks of hearing loss are something that most individuals are already familiar with: you grow more withdrawn from your loved ones, you raise your risk of social separation, and have an increased risk of developing cognitive decline. But we’re finally beginning to comprehend some of the less evident disadvantages to hearing loss.

One of those relationships that’s becoming more evident is that hearing loss can lead to an increase in emergency room trips. One study found that individuals with hearing loss have a 17% higher risk of needing a visit to the emergency room and a 44% increased chance of readmission later on.

Is there a link?

There are a couple of reasons why this could be.

  • Your likelihood of readmission substantially increases once you’re in the hospital. But when you’re discharged and go home for a time but then need to go back to the hospital, readmission occurs. Sometimes this happens because a complication occurs. In other instances, readmission may be the outcome of a new issue, or because the original issue wasn’t properly addressed.
  • Your situational awareness can be impacted negatively by neglected hearing loss. If you aren’t aware of your surroundings, you may be more likely to have a car accident or stub your toe. Obviously, you could wind up in the hospital because of this.

Chances of readmission is increased

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

  • If you have untreated hearing loss, you might not be able to hear the instructions that your doctors and nurses give you. For instance, if you can’t hear what your physical therapist is telling you to do, you will be unable to perform your physical therapy treatment as well as you otherwise would. This can result in a longer recovery time while you’re in the hospital as well as a longer recovery once you’re discharged.
  • Taking care of yourself after you get home will be practically impossible if you don’t hear the instructions. You have a higher likelihood of reinjuring yourself if you’re not even aware that you didn’t hear the instructions.

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

Keeping track of your hearing aids

At first glimpse, the solution here might seem simple: you just need to use your hearing aids! Sadly, in the early stages of hearing loss, it frequently goes undetected because of how gradually it develops. The solution here is to make an appointment for a hearing exam with us.

Even if you do have a pair of hearing aids (and you should), there’s another complication: you might lose them. It’s often a chaotic scene when you need to go in for a hospital stay. So the probability of losing your hearing aid is definitely present. Knowing how to handle hearing aids during a hospital stay can help you remain engaged in your care.

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

If you’re dealing with hearing loss and you’re going in for a hospital stay, many of the headaches and discomfort can be avoided by knowing how to get yourself ready. Here are a few basic things you can do:

  • Communicate to hospital staff about your hearing loss. The more informed you are about your hearing loss, the less likelihood there is for a miscommunication to happen.
  • Urge your loved ones to advocate on your behalf. You should always be advocating on your own behalf in a hospital setting.
  • Keep your eye on your battery’s charge. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if necessary.
  • Whenever you can, wear your hearing aids, and when you aren’t using them, make certain to keep them in the case.
  • Don’t forget your case. Having a case for your hearing aid is very important. They will be able to be better taken care of that way.

The key here is to communicate with the hospital at every stage. Your doctors and nurses should be told about your hearing loss.

Hearing is a health issue

So maybe it’s time to stop thinking of hearing health and your general wellness as two completely different things. After all your general health can be substantially impacted by your hearing. Hearing loss is like any other health problem in that it needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

You don’t need to be like Tom. The next time you find yourself in the hospital, make certain your hearing aids are with you.

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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