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! Hey, the things you look forward to change as you age. He will be able to move moving around more easily and will experience less pain with this knee replacement. So Tom goes in, the operation is a success, and Tom goes home!

That’s when things take a turn.

Unfortunately, the healing process doesn’t go as it should. An infection sets in, and Tom ends up back in the hospital for another knee surgery. It’s getting less thrilling for Tom by the minute. The nurses and doctors have come to the conclusion that Tom wasn’t adhering to 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 issue is that he didn’t hear them. Tom can feel a little better in the fact that he’s not by himself: there’s a strong link between hearing loss and hospital visits.

More hospital visits can be the outcome of hearing loss

By now, you’re probably acquainted with the typical drawbacks of hearing loss: you have the tendency to socially separate yourself, causing you to become more removed from friends and loved ones, and you increase your risk of developing dementia. But we’re finally beginning to comprehend some of the less evident disadvantages to hearing loss.

One of those relationships that’s becoming more clear is that hearing loss can lead to an increase in emergency room trips. One study revealed that people with hearing loss have a 17% higher risk of requiring a visit to the emergency room and a 44% increased risk of readmission later.

What’s the link?

This might be the situation for a couple of reasons.

  • Once you’re in the hospital, your potential of readmission increases considerably. 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. Readmission can also occur because the initial problem wasn’t properly managed or even from a new problem.
  • Your situational awareness can be impacted 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 your surroundings. These sorts of injuries can, obviously, send you to the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).

Chances of readmission increases

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

  • When your nurses and doctors give you instructions you may not hear them very well because of your untreated hearing loss. You won’t be able to effectively do your physical therapy, for instance, if you fail to hear the instructions from your physical therapist. Whether you’re still in the hospital or at home, your recovery period could be greatly increased.
  • If you can’t hear your recovery directions, you won’t know how to care for yourself as you recover at home. If you’re unable to 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 instance, let’s say you’ve recently had knee replacement surgery. Maybe you’re not supposed to shower for three weeks but you thought your doctor said three days. And you might find yourself back in the hospital with a severe infection.

Keeping track of your hearing aids

At first glimpse, the answer here might seem basic: just use your hearing aids! Sadly, in the early phases of hearing loss, it frequently goes undetected because of how gradually it progresses. 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 situation: you might lose them. Hospital visits are often rather chaotic. So the possibility of losing your hearing aid is definitely present. You will be better able to remain involved in your care when you’re in the hospital if you know how to deal with your hearing aid.

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

If you have hearing loss and you’re going in for a hospital stay, a lot of the headaches and discomfort can be avoided by knowing how to prepare. Here are a few basic things you can do:

  • Urge your loved ones to advocate for you. You should always be advocating on your own behalf in a hospital setting.
  • 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.
  • Be mindful of your battery power. Bring spares if you need them and charge your hearing aids when you can.
  • Wear your hearing aids whenever you can, and when you aren’t wearing them, make certain to keep them in the case.
  • Don’t forget your case. It’s very important to use a case for your hearing aids. They will be able to be better taken care of that way.

Communication with the hospital at every stage is the trick here. Your doctors and nurses should be made aware of 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 substantial impact on your general health. In many ways, hearing loss is the same as a broken arm, in that each of these health problems calls for prompt treatment in order to prevent 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 nearby.

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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.