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 get older, the types of things you look forward to change. His knee replacement means he will feel less pain and be able to get out and about a lot better. So the surgery is a success and Tom heads home.

But that’s not 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 getting less thrilling for Tom by the minute. The nurses and doctors have come to the realization that Tom wasn’t following their advice and instructions for recovery.

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

Hearing loss can result in more hospital visits

At this point, you’re most likely familiar with the common drawbacks of hearing loss: you become more withdrawn from your loved ones, you raise your risk of social solitude, and have an increased risk of developing dementia. But there can be additional, less apparent disadvantages to hearing loss, too, some of which we’re just beginning to really understand.

Increased emergency room visits is one of those relationships that’s becoming more apparent. People who suffer from untreated hearing loss have a greater danger of going to the emergency room by 17% and will be 44% more likely to have to be readmitted later on, as reported by one study.

Is there a connection?

This could be the situation for a couple of reasons.

  • Untreated hearing loss can negatively affect your situational awareness. 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 end up in the hospital because of this.
  • Once you’re in the hospital, your potential of readmission increases considerably. 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 occur that result in this readmission. In other cases, readmission might result from a new problem, or because the original problem wasn’t properly addressed.

Increased chances of readmission

Why is readmission more likely for individuals who have untreated hearing loss? This occurs 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 understand 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. This can result in a longer recovery duration while you’re in the hospital as well as a longer recovery once you’re out.
  • If you can’t hear your recovery directions, you won’t know how to care for yourself as you recover at home. If you can’t hear the instructions (and especially if you don’t know you aren’t hearing your instructions properly), you’re more likely to reinjure yourself.

Let’s say, for example, you’ve recently undergone surgery to replace your knee. Your surgeon may tell you not to shower for the next 3 weeks, but you hear 3 days instead. And you might find yourself back in the hospital with a serious infection.

Keeping track of your hearing aids

At first glimpse, the answer here might seem basic: you just need to use your hearing aids! Sadly, in the early phases of hearing loss, it frequently goes unnoticed because of how slowly it develops. Coming in to see us for a hearing test 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. Hospital trips are usually really chaotic. Which means there’s lots of potential of losing your hearing aids. You will be better able to remain engaged in your care when you’re in the hospital if you know how to deal with your hearing aid.

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

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

  • Encourage your loved ones to advocate on your behalf. You should always be advocating for yourself in a hospital setting.
  • Communicate to hospital staff about your hearing loss. Miscommunication will be less likely if they are well informed about your situation.
  • Keep your eye on your battery’s charge. Bring spares if you need them and charge your hearing aids when you can.
  • Don’t forget your case. It’s really important to use a case for your hearing aids. This will make them much easier to keep track of.
  • Wear your hearing aids when you can, and put them in their case when you’re not using them.

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

Hearing is a health issue

It’s important to acknowledge that your hearing health and your general health are closely related. After all your general health can be significantly affected by your hearing. In a lot of ways, hearing loss is no different than a broken arm, in that each of these health issues calls for prompt treatment in order to avoid possible complications.

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

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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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