Female doctor communicating with older man who has hearing loss in wheelchair examining reports at the hospital corridor.

Tom is getting a brand new knee and he’s really jazzed! Look, as you get older, the kinds of things you get excited about change. His knee replacement means he will experience less pain and be able to get around a lot better. So Tom goes in, the operation is a success, and Tom goes home!

But that isn’t the end of it.

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. Tom isn’t as excited by this point. The nurses and doctors have come to the realization that Tom wasn’t following their advice and instructions for recovery.

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

Hearing loss can lead to more hospital visits

At this point, you’re most likely acquainted with the typical drawbacks of hearing loss: you become more distant from your loved ones, you raise your risk of social separation, and have an increased danger of getting cognitive decline. But there can be additional, less apparent disadvantages to hearing loss, too, some of which we’re just beginning to actually understand.

Increased emergency room trips is one of those relationships that’s becoming more clear. One study revealed that people with hearing loss have a 17% greater risk of needing a trip to the emergency room and a 44% higher chance of readmission later.

What’s the link?

This could be the case for a couple of reasons.

  • Once you’re in the hospital, your possibility of readmission goes up substantially. Readmission happens when you’re released from the hospital, spend some time at home, and then need to go back to the hospital. Sometimes this happens because a complication occurs. In other cases, readmission may result from a new problem, or because the original issue wasn’t addressed correctly.
  • Your situational awareness can be impacted negatively by neglected hearing loss. Anything from a stubbed toe to a car accident will be more likely to take place if you aren’t aware of what’s around you. These kinds of injuries can, obviously, send you to the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).

Increased risk of readmission

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

  • If you have untreated hearing loss, you might not be able to hear the instructions that your nurses and doctors give you. You won’t be able to properly do your physical therapy, for instance, if you fail to hear the guidelines from your physical therapist. This can lead to a longer recovery time while you’re in the hospital and also a longer recovery once you’re discharged.
  • Caring for yourself after you get home will be practically impossible if you don’t hear the instructions. You have an increased chance of reinjuring yourself if you don’t even know that you didn’t hear the instructions.

For example, let’s pretend you’ve recently had knee replacement surgery. Your surgeon might tell you not to take a shower for the next 3 weeks, but you hear 3 days instead. And you might find yourself back in the hospital with a severe infection.

Keeping track of your hearing aids

At first glance, the answer here may seem basic: just use your hearing aids! Sadly, in the early stages of hearing loss, it often goes unnoticed because of how gradually it advances. 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 chance you may lose them. Hospital visits are usually quite chaotic. So the possibility of losing your hearing aid is absolutely present. You will be better able to stay engaged 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

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

  • 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.
  • Don’t forget to bring your case. Having a case for your hearing aid is very important. This will make them a lot easier to keep track of.
  • In a hospital environment, you should always advocate for yourself and ask your loved ones to advocate for you.
  • Wear your hearing aids whenever you can, and keep them in their case when you’re not wearing them.
  • Be mindful of your battery power. Bring spares if you need them and charge your hearing aids when you can.

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

Hearing is a health issue

It’s important to realize that your hearing health and your general health are closely linked. After all, your hearing can have a considerable affect on your general health. In a lot of ways, hearing loss is the same as a broken arm, in that each of these health problems requires prompt treatment in order to avoid possible complications.

You don’t need 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.
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