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 brand new knee! Look, as you grow older, the types of things you get excited about change. 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 successful, and Tom heads home!

But that isn’t the end of it.

The knee doesn’t heal properly. Tom finds himself back in the hospital with an infection and will need another surgery. It’s becoming less thrilling for Tom by the minute. The doctors and nurses have come to the conclusion that Tom wasn’t adhering to their advice and guidelines for recovery.

Tom didn’t purposely ignore the instructions. Tom actually never even heard the instructions. It just so happens that there is a solid connection between hospital visits and hearing loss, so Tom isn’t alone.

More hospital visits can be the outcome of hearing loss

The common drawbacks of hearing loss are something that most individuals are already familiar with: you have the tendency to socially separate yourself, causing you to become more removed from friends and loved ones, and you raise your risk of developing dementia. But we’re finally beginning to comprehend some of the less apparent drawbacks to hearing loss.

One of those relationships that’s becoming more evident is that hearing loss can result in an increase in emergency room visits. One study discovered that people with hearing loss have a 17% greater danger of requiring a visit to the emergency room and a 44% higher risk of readmission later on.

What’s the link?

There are a couple of reasons why this could be.

  • Your chance of readmission considerably 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 happens. Sometimes this takes place because a complication occurs. In other instances, readmission might be the outcome of a new issue, or because the initial problem wasn’t properly addressed.
  • Neglected hearing loss can negatively impact your situational awareness. Anything from a stubbed toe to a car accident will be more likely to occur if you aren’t aware of your surroundings. Obviously, you could end up in the hospital due to this.

Increased chances of readmission

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

  • When your doctors and nurses give you instructions you may 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 might. 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. 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 undergone 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 at risk of developing a serious infection (one that could put you back at the hospital).

Keeping track of your hearing aids

At first glance, the solution here may seem simple: you just need to wear your hearing aids! Unfortunately, hearing loss usually progresses very gradually, and individuals with hearing loss might not always recognize they are feeling its effects. 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 situation: you could lose them. Hospital trips are often rather chaotic. Which means there’s a lot 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 handle your hearing aid.

Tips for prepping for a hospital visit when you have hearing loss

Knowing how to prepare for a hospital stay when you have hearing loss can avert lots of headaches (and other discomfort) in the future. Here are a few basic things you can do:

  • Keep your eye on your battery’s charge. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if needed.
  • In a hospital setting, always advocate for yourself and ask your loved ones to advocate for you.
  • Communicate to hospital staff about your hearing loss. Miscommunication will be less likely if they are well notified about your situation.
  • Use 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. Having a case for your hearing aid is very important. This will make them a lot easier to keep track of.

The trick here is to communicate with the hospital at every stage. Be sure you’re telling your nurses and doctors 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 totally different things. After all your general health can be significantly impacted by your hearing. Hearing loss is like any other health problem in that it needs to be treated as soon as possible.

You don’t need to be like Tom. The next time you find yourself in the hospital, make sure 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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