When You’re Hospitalized, Hearing Loss Can Lead to 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 new knee! Hey, the things you look forward to change as you age. He will be capable of moving around more freely and will experience less pain with this knee replacement. So the surgery is successful and Tom heads home.

But that’s not the end of it.

Regrettably, the healing process doesn’t go very well. An infection takes hold, and Tom winds up back in the hospital for another knee surgery. Tom is not as excited by this point. As the nurses and doctors attempt to determine what occurred, it becomes clear that Tom wasn’t following his recovery instructions.

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

Hearing loss can result in more hospital visits

By now, you’re likely familiar with the typical drawbacks of hearing loss: you have the tendency to socially isolate yourself, causing you to become more distant from friends and family, and you increase your danger of developing dementia. But there can be added, less apparent disadvantages to hearing loss, too, some of which we’re just starting to truly understand.

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

Is there a connection?

This could be the case for a couple of reasons.

  • Once you’re in the hospital, your possibility of readmission increases substantially. Readmission happens when you’re released from the hospital, spend some time at home, and then have to go back to the hospital. Complications sometimes happen that result in this readmission. In other cases, readmission might be the outcome of a new issue, or because the initial issue wasn’t properly addressed.
  • Your situational awareness can be affected negatively by neglected hearing loss. Anything from a stubbed toe to a car accident will be more likely to occur if you’re not aware of what’s around you. Obviously, you could wind up in the hospital because of this.

Increased risk of readmission

Why is readmission more likely for people who have untreated hearing loss? There are a couple of reasons for this:

  • 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 hear what your physical therapist is telling you to do, you will be unable to perform your physical therapy treatment as well as you otherwise might. This can lead to a longer recovery period while you’re in the hospital and also a longer recovery once you’re discharged.
  • Taking care of yourself after you get home will be nearly impossible if you don’t hear the instructions. If you’re unable to hear the instructions (and particularly if you don’t know 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. Maybe you’re not supposed to take a shower for three weeks but you thought your doctor said three days. 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

At first glance, the answer here may seem simple: just use your hearing aids! Sadly, in the early stages of hearing loss, it often goes undetected because of how slowly it progresses. The solution here is to schedule a hearing test with us.

Even after you’ve taken the measures and invested in a pair of hearing aids, there’s still the chance you may lose them. It’s often 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 involved in your care when you’re in the hospital if you know how to deal with 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 avoided by knowing how to get yourself ready. Here are a number of basic things you can do:

  • Use your hearing aids when you can, and put them in their case when you’re not wearing them.
  • Don’t forget your case. It’s very important to have a case for your hearing aids. They will be able to be better cared for that way.
  • Urge your loved ones to advocate on your behalf. You should always be advocating for yourself in a hospital setting.
  • Keep your eye on your battery’s charge. Bring spares if you need them and charge your hearing aids when you can.
  • 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 happen.

Communication with the hospital at every phase is key here. Be certain that you’re telling your nurses and doctors about your hearing loss.

Hearing is a health issue

It’s important to recognize that your hearing health and your overall health are closely linked. After all, your hearing can have a substantial impact on your overall health. Hearing loss is like any other health issue in that it needs to be addressed right away.

The ability to avoid Tom’s fate is in your hands. The next time you find yourself in the hospital, be certain that 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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