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 super pumped! Hey, the things you get excited about change as you get older. His knee replacement means he will experience less pain and be able to get out and about a lot better. So the operation is successful and Tom goes home.

But that’s not the end of it.

The knee doesn’t heal as well as it should. An infection sets in, and Tom winds up back in the hospital for another knee surgery. It’s getting less exciting for Tom by the minute. The doctors and nurses have come to the conclusion that Tom wasn’t following their advice and guidelines for recovery.

Tom didn’t purposely ignore the guidelines. Tom actually never even heard the instructions. It turns out that there is a solid link between hospital visits and hearing loss, so Tom isn’t by himself.

More hospital visits can be the outcome of hearing loss

The typical disadvantages of hearing loss are something that most people are already acquainted with: you tend to socially isolate yourself, causing you to become more distant from friends and family, and you raise your danger of developing dementia. But there can be additional, less apparent drawbacks to hearing loss, too, some of which we’re just starting to really understand.

Increased emergency room visits is one of those relationships that’s becoming more evident. One study found that people with hearing loss have a 17% higher danger of requiring a visit to the emergency room and a 44% higher chance of readmission later on.

What’s the connection?

There are a couple of reasons why this might be.

  • Your situational awareness can be affected negatively by untreated hearing loss. Anything from a stubbed toe to a car accident will be more likely to occur if you’re not aware of what’s around you. These sorts of injuries can, obviously, send you to the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).
  • Once you’re in the hospital, your possibility of readmission goes up substantially. But when you’re released and go home for a time but then have to go back to the hospital, readmission happens. Sometimes this happens because a complication occurs. In other instances, readmission might result from a new problem, or because the original issue wasn’t properly addressed.

Increased risk of readmission

So why are people with neglected hearing loss more likely to be readmitted to the hospital? There are a couple of reasons for this:

  • If you have untreated hearing loss, you might not be able to hear the instructions that your nurses and doctors give you. You won’t be able to properly do your physical therapy, for instance, if you fail to hear the guidelines from your physical therapist. Whether you’re still in the hospital or at home, your recovery time could be greatly increased.
  • If you can’t hear your recovery directions, you won’t know how to take care of yourself as you recover at home. You have an increased likelihood of reinjuring yourself if you’re not even aware that you didn’t hear the instructions.

For instance, let’s pretend you’ve recently had knee replacement surgery. Your surgeon might tell you not to shower for the next 3 weeks, but you hear 3 days instead. Now your wound is in danger of developing a serious infection (one that could put you back at the hospital).

Keeping track of your hearing aids

At first glimpse, the solution here might seem simple: you just need to wear your hearing aids! Regrettably, hearing loss usually progresses very slowly, and individuals with hearing loss might not always realize they are feeling its effects. Coming in to see us for a hearing exam is the solution here.

Even if you do have a set of hearing aids (and you should), there’s another complication: you could lose them. It’s often a chaotic scene when you have to go in for a hospital stay. Which means there’s lots of potential to lose your hearing aids. Knowing how to handle hearing aids during a hospital stay can help you remain involved in your care.

Tips for getting prepared for a hospital visit when you have hearing loss

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 number of basic things you can do:

  • Urge your loved ones to advocate on your behalf. You should always be advocating on your own behalf in a hospital setting.
  • Whenever you can, wear your hearing aids, and put them in their case when you aren’t using them.
  • Take your case with you. Having a case for your hearing aid is very important. This will make them much easier to keep track of.
  • 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.
  • Keep your eye on your battery’s charge. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if necessary.

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

Hearing loss can cause health problems

So perhaps it’s time to stop thinking of hearing health and your overall wellness as two totally different things. After all your overall health can be considerably affected by your hearing. In a lot of ways, hearing loss is the same as a broken arm, in that each of these health problems requires prompt treatment in order to avoid possible complications.

You don’t need to be like Tom. Keep your hearing aids close the next time you have to go in for a hospital stay.

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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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