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 grow older, the kinds of things you look forward to change. His knee replacement means he will suffer from less pain and be able to get out and about a lot better. So Tom is admitted, the operation is successful, and Tom goes home!

That’s when things take a turn.

The knee doesn’t heal as well as it should. An infection takes hold, and Tom ends up back in the hospital for another knee surgery. It’s getting less exciting for Tom by the minute. As the nurses and doctors attempt to figure out what happened, it becomes evident that Tom wasn’t following his recovery guidelines.

So here’s the thing: it isn’t that Tom didn’t want to follow those recovery guidelines. The problem is that he didn’t hear them. It just so happens that there is a strong link between hospital visits and hearing loss, so Tom isn’t by himself.

Hearing loss can result in more hospital visits

The common disadvantages of hearing loss are something that most people are already familiar with: you have the tendency to socially isolate yourself, causing you to become more distant from friends and loved ones, and you increase your risk of developing cognitive decline. But there can be added, less apparent disadvantages 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 lead to an increase in emergency room visits. One study discovered that people with hearing loss have a 17% greater danger of needing a visit to the emergency room and a 44% increased chance of readmission later on.

Is there a connection?

This might be the case for a couple of reasons.

  • Untreated hearing loss can negatively affect your situational awareness. Anything from a stubbed toe to a car accident will be more likely to take place if you aren’t aware of your surroundings. Obviously, you could wind up in the hospital because of this.
  • Your likelihood of readmission substantially increases once you’re in the hospital. But when you’re released and go home for a time but then have to go back to the hospital, readmission occurs. Complications sometimes happen that result in this readmission. In other cases, readmission may result from a new issue, or because the initial problem wasn’t properly addressed.

Chances of readmission is increased

Why is readmission more likely for people who have neglected hearing loss? This occurs 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 example, if you can’t understand what your physical therapist is telling you to do, you won’t be able to do your physical therapy treatment as well as you otherwise might. Whether you’re still in the hospital or at home, your recovery period could be greatly increased.
  • If you’re unable to hear your recovery directions, you won’t know how to take care of yourself as you recover at home. If you’re unable to 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 had surgery to replace your knee. Your surgeon might tell you not to take a shower for the next 3 weeks, but you hear 3 days instead. And you could find yourself back in the hospital with a severe infection.

Keeping track of your hearing aids

At first glance, the solution here may seem basic: just use your hearing aids! Regrettably, hearing loss usually progresses very slowly, and people with hearing loss might not always recognize they are experiencing symptoms. The solution here is to make an appointment for a hearing exam with us.

Even if you do have a set of hearing aids (and you should), there’s another situation: you could lose them. Hospital visits are frequently very chaotic. Which means there’s a lot of potential of losing your hearing aids. Knowing how to handle hearing aids during a hospital stay can help you remain involved in your care.

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

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

  • Be mindful of your battery power. Bring spares if you need them and charge your hearing aids when you can.
  • Communicate to hospital staff about your hearing loss. The more educated you are about your hearing loss, the less chance there is for a miscommunication to occur.
  • Whenever you can, wear your hearing aids, and when you aren’t wearing them, make sure to keep them in the case.
  • Urge your loved ones to advocate for you. You should always be advocating on your own behalf in a hospital setting.
  • Don’t forget to bring your case. It’s really important to use a case for your hearing aids. They will be able to be better taken care of that way.

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

Hearing loss can cause health issues

It’s important to realize that your hearing health and your overall health are closely linked. After all your general health can be considerably impacted by your hearing. In a lot of ways, hearing loss is no different than a broken arm, in that each of these health issues requires prompt treatment in order to avoid possible complications.

The power 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.

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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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