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 super pumped! Hey, the things you get excited about change as you get older. His knee replacement means he will suffer from less pain and be able to get out and about a lot better. So the surgery is successful and Tom heads home.

But that isn’t the end of it.

The knee doesn’t heal properly. Tom finds himself back in the hospital with an infection and will require another surgery. Tom is not as psyched by this point. As the doctors and nurses try to determine what took place, it becomes clear that Tom wasn’t following his recovery instructions.

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

Hearing loss can result in more hospital visits

By now, you’re probably acquainted with the typical disadvantages of hearing loss: you grow more distant from your loved ones, you increase your risk of social solitude, and have an increased danger of developing dementia. But there can be added, less obvious drawbacks to hearing loss, too, some of which we’re just beginning to really understand.

One of those relationships that’s becoming more evident is that hearing loss can lead to an increase in emergency room trips. One study discovered that individuals with hearing loss have a 17% higher risk of needing a trip to the emergency room and a 44% higher chance of readmission later.

What’s the connection?

There are a couple of reasons why this might be.

  • Once you’re in the hospital, your potential of readmission goes up considerably. Readmission happens when you’re released from the hospital, spend some time at home, and then need to go back to the hospital. Complications sometimes occur that lead to this readmission. In other cases, readmission may be the outcome of a new problem, or because the initial problem wasn’t addressed correctly.
  • Neglected hearing loss can negatively affect your situational awareness. Anything from a stubbed toe to a car accident will be more likely to happen if you’re not aware of what’s around you. These kinds of injuries can, of course, land you in the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).

Increased risk of readmission

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

  • If you have neglected hearing loss, you might not be able to hear the instructions that your doctors and nurses 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 duration could be greatly increased.
  • Taking care of yourself after you get home will be nearly impossible if you don’t hear the guidelines. 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.

Let’s say, for instance, you’ve recently undergone surgery to replace your knee. Your surgeon might tell you not to shower for the next 3 weeks, but you hear 3 days instead. Now your wound is at risk of getting a severe infection (one that could put you back at the hospital).

Keeping track of your hearing aids

The answer might seem straight-forward at first glimpse: just use your hearing aids! Sadly, in the early phases of hearing loss, it frequently goes unnoticed because of how gradually it progresses. The solution here is to schedule a hearing test with us.

Even if you do have a pair of hearing aids (and you should), there’s another complication: you could lose them. Hospital trips are frequently very chaotic. Which means there’s lots of potential to lose your hearing aids. You will be better able to remain involved 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 get yourself ready. Here are a few basic things you can do:

  • Whenever you can, use your hearing aids, and keep them in their case when you aren’t using them.
  • In a hospital setting, 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. Miscommunication will be less likely if they are well notified about your situation.
  • Be aware of your battery power. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if necessary.
  • Take your case with you. Using a case for your hearing aid is very important. They will be able to be better cared for that way.

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

Hearing loss can cause health problems

It’s important to realize that your hearing health and your general health are closely related. After all your general health can be substantially affected by your hearing. In a lot of 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 have to be like Tom. Keep your hearing aids close the next time you have to go in for a hospital stay.

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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.