When You’re Hospitalized, Hearing Loss Can Cause Complications

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

Tom is getting a brand new knee and he’s super pumped! Look, as you get older, the types of things you look forward to change. He will be able to move moving around more freely and will experience less pain with his new knee. So the surgery is a success and Tom heads home.

But that’s not the end of it.

The knee doesn’t heal properly. An infection takes hold, 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 instructions for recovery.

So here’s the thing: it’s not that Tom didn’t want to follow those recovery guidelines. The problem is that he didn’t hear them. Tom can take some comfort in the fact that he’s not by himself: there’s a strong connection between hearing loss and hospital visits.

More hospital visits can be the consequence of hearing loss

By now, you’re likely acquainted with the typical disadvantages of hearing loss: you grow more withdrawn from your loved ones, you raise your risk of social isolation, and have an increased risk of getting dementia.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 clear. Individuals who suffer from neglected hearing loss have a greater risk of taking a trip to the emergency room by 17% and will be 44% more likely to have to be readmitted later, according to one study.

Is there a link?

There are a couple of reasons why this could be.

  • Untreated hearing loss can negatively affect your situational awareness. If you aren’t aware of your surroundings, you may be more likely to get into a car accident or stub your toe. Of course, you could end up in the hospital due to this.
  • Your potential of readmission substantially increases once you’re in the hospital. Readmission happens when you are discharged from the hospital, spend some time at home, and then need to go back to the hospital. Sometimes this happens because a complication occurs. In other cases, readmission might be the outcome of a new issue, or because the initial problem wasn’t addressed correctly.

Increased risk of readmission

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

  • When your doctors and nurses give you instructions you may not hear them very well because of your neglected hearing loss. You won’t be able to effectively 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 duration could be greatly increased.
  • Caring for yourself after you get home will be practically impossible if you don’t hear the guidelines. You have a higher chance of reinjuring yourself if you’re not even aware that you didn’t hear the instructions.

Let’s say, for example, you’ve recently undergone surgery to replace your knee. Maybe you’re not supposed to take a shower for three weeks but you thought your doctor said three days. Now your wound is in danger of developing a serious infection (one that could land you back at the hospital).

Keeping track of your hearing aids

At first glance, the solution here may seem basic: you just need to wear your hearing aids! Regrettably, hearing loss usually develops very gradually, and people with hearing loss may not always recognize they are experiencing symptoms. Coming in to see us for a hearing exam is the solution here.

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

Tips for prepping for a hospital stay 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 prevented by knowing how to prepare. There are some easy things you can do:

  • Bring your case with you. It’s really important to use a case for your hearing aids. They will be able to be better cared for that way.
  • In a hospital environment, you should always advocate for yourself and ask your family to advocate for you.
  • Make sure that the hospital staff is aware of your hearing loss. The more educated you are about your hearing loss, the less likelihood there is for a miscommunication to occur.
  • Wear your hearing aids when you can, and when you aren’t wearing them, make sure to keep them in the case.
  • Keep your eye on your battery’s charge. Bring spares if you need them and charge your hearing aids when you can.

The key here is to communicate with the hospital at every phase. Be certain that 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 hearing can have a considerable impact on your overall health. Hearing loss is like any other health issue in that it needs to be treated right away.

You don’t have to be like Tom. Keep your hearing aids close the next time you have 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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