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 around a lot better. So Tom goes in, the operation is successful, and Tom goes home!

But that’s not the end of it.

Unfortunately, the healing process doesn’t go as it should. An infection sets in, and Tom winds up back in the hospital for another knee surgery. Tom isn’t as excited by this point. The doctors and nurses have come to the realization that Tom wasn’t following their advice and guidelines for recovery.

So here’s the thing: it isn’t that Tom didn’t want to observe those recovery guidelines. Tom actually never even heard the instructions. It turns out that there is a solid connection between hospital visits and hearing loss, so Tom isn’t alone.

More hospital visits can be the outcome of hearing loss

The common drawbacks of hearing loss are something that most people are already acquainted with: you become more distant from your loved ones, you raise your risk of social solitude, and have an increased danger of getting cognitive decline. But we’re finally starting to comprehend some of the less evident drawbacks to hearing loss.

One of those relationships that’s becoming more apparent is that hearing loss can result in an increase in emergency room visits. One study found that individuals with hearing loss have a 17% greater risk of needing a visit to the emergency room and a 44% increased risk of readmission later.

Is there a link?

There are a couple of reasons why this could be.

  • Once you’re in the hospital, your potential of readmission increases considerably. Readmission occurs when you are released from the hospital, spend some time at home, and then have to go back to the hospital. Complications sometimes happen that lead to this readmission. Readmission can also happen because the original issue wasn’t properly managed or even from a new issue.
  • Your situational awareness can be impacted negatively by untreated hearing loss. If you aren’t aware of your surroundings, you may be more likely to get into a car accident or stub your toe. Obviously, you could wind up in the hospital because of this.

Risk of readmission is increased

So why are those with untreated 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 may not be able to hear the instructions that your nurses and doctors give you. For instance, 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 can’t hear your recovery instructions, you won’t know how to care for yourself as you continue recovering at home. You have a higher likelihood of reinjuring yourself if you’re not even aware that you didn’t hear the instructions.

Let’s say, for instance, you’ve recently undergone 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 might find yourself back in the hospital with a severe infection.

Keeping track of your hearing aids

At first glimpse, the solution here may seem simple: just wear your hearing aids! Unfortunately, hearing loss often advances very slowly, and those with hearing loss may not always recognize they are feeling its effects. Coming in to see us for a hearing exam is the solution here.

Even after you’ve taken the measures and invested in a set of hearing aids, there’s still the possibility of losing them. Hospital visits are usually very chaotic. Which means there’s lots of potential to lose your hearing aids. Knowing how to handle hearing aids during a hospital stay can help you remain engaged in your care.

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

If you have hearing loss and you’re going in for a hospital stay, a lot of the headaches and discomfort can be prevented by knowing how to prepare. Here are a few 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.
  • Take your case with you. It’s very important to use a case for your hearing aids. This will make them much easier to keep track of.
  • Communicate to hospital staff about your hearing loss. Miscommunication will be less likely if they are well notified about your situation.
  • Whenever you can, wear your hearing aids, and when you aren’t wearing them, make certain to keep them in the case.
  • In a hospital setting, you should always advocate for yourself and ask your loved ones to advocate for you.

Communication with the hospital at every phase is key here. Your doctors and nurses need to be told 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 significantly affected by your hearing. In many 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. Keep your hearing aids close the next time you need 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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