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 thrilled, he’s getting a brand new knee! Hey, the things you get excited about change as you get older. He will be capable of moving around more freely and will experience less pain with this knee replacement. So Tom is admitted, the operation is a success, and Tom heads home!

That’s when things take a turn.

The knee doesn’t heal as well as it should. Tom ends up back in the hospital with an infection and will need another surgery. It’s becoming less exciting for Tom by the minute. As the doctors and nurses try to determine what happened, it becomes evident that Tom wasn’t following his recovery guidelines.

Tom didn’t purposely ignore the guidelines. Tom actually never even heard the instructions. Tom can take some comfort in the fact that he’s not alone: there’s a solid link between hospital visits and hearing loss.

Hearing loss can contribute to more hospital visits

The common disadvantages of hearing loss are something that most people are already acquainted with: you tend to socially isolate yourself, causing you to become more removed from friends and loved ones, and you increase your danger of developing dementia. But there can be additional, less obvious drawbacks to hearing loss, too, some of which we’re just starting to actually understand.

One of those relationships that’s becoming more evident is that hearing loss can result in an increase in emergency room visits. Individuals who suffer from neglected hearing loss have a higher danger 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 connection?

This could be the situation for a couple of reasons.

  • Your possibility 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 happens because a complication occurs. Readmission can also happen because the initial issue wasn’t properly managed or even from a new issue.
  • 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 happen if you aren’t aware of what’s around you. Of course, you could end up in the hospital because of this.

Increased chances of readmission

Why is readmission more likely for people who have neglected hearing loss? This happens for a couple of reasons:

  • If you have untreated hearing loss, you may not be able to hear the instructions that your nurses and doctors give you. For instance, if you can’t hear what your physical therapist is telling you to do, you won’t be able to perform your physical therapy treatment as well as you otherwise would. 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 care for yourself as you recover at home. If you’re unable to hear the instructions (and especially 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 undergone knee replacement surgery. Your surgeon might 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

The answer might seem straight-forward at first glance: you just need to use your hearing aids! Sadly, in the early phases of hearing loss, it often goes unnoticed because of how gradually it progresses. Coming in to see us for a hearing exam is the solution here.

Even after you’ve taken the measures and invested in a pair of hearing aids, there’s still the possibility of losing them. It’s frequently a chaotic scene when you have to go in for a hospital stay. So the probability of losing your hearing aid is absolutely present. You will be better able to remain engaged in your care when you’re in the hospital if you know how to handle your hearing aid.

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

Knowing how to get ready for a hospital stay when you have hearing loss can prevent lots of headaches (and other discomfort) in the future. There are some easy things you can do:

  • Be aware of your battery power. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if necessary.
  • Take your case with you. Having a case for your hearing aid is very important. They will be able to be better taken care of that way.
  • Whenever you can, use your hearing aids, and when you aren’t wearing them, make certain to keep them in the case.
  • 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.
  • In a hospital setting, you should always advocate for yourself and ask your loved ones to advocate for you.

The key here is to communicate with the hospital at every phase. Make sure you’re telling your nurses and doctors about your hearing loss.

Hearing loss can cause health problems

So maybe it’s time to stop thinking of hearing health and your general wellness as two totally different things. After all your overall health can be substantially affected by your hearing. In many ways, hearing loss is no different than a broken arm, in that each of these health issues calls for prompt treatment in order to prevent possible complications.

The ability to avoid Tom’s fate is in your hands. The next time you find yourself in the hospital, make certain your hearing aids are nearby.

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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