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 brand new knee! Look, as you age, the kinds of things you look forward to change. He will be capable of moving around more easily and will experience less pain with this knee replacement. So the operation is a success and Tom heads home.

That’s when things go wrong.

The knee doesn’t heal as well as it should. An infection sets in, and Tom ends up back in the hospital for another knee surgery. It’s becoming less exciting for Tom by the minute. The doctors and nurses have come to the conclusion that Tom wasn’t adhering to their advice and instructions for recovery.

Tom didn’t purposely ignore the instructions. The issue is that he never heard them. It just so happens that there is a solid link between hospital visits and hearing loss, so Tom isn’t alone.

More hospital visits can be the consequence of hearing loss

The typical disadvantages of hearing loss are something that most people are already familiar with: you tend to socially separate yourself, causing you to become more distant from friends and loved ones, and you raise your risk of developing cognitive decline. But we’re finally beginning to comprehend some of the less apparent disadvantages to hearing loss.

One of those relationships that’s becoming more clear is that hearing loss can result in an increase in emergency room visits. Individuals who suffer from untreated hearing loss have a greater danger of taking a trip to the emergency room by 17% and will be 44% more likely to have to be readmitted later on, as reported by one study.

Is there a link?

There are a couple of reasons why this could be.

  • Untreated hearing loss can negatively impact your situational awareness. If you aren’t aware of your surroundings, you might be more likely to get into a car accident or stub your toe. These sorts of injuries can, obviously, land you in the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).
  • Once you’re in the hospital, your possibility of readmission goes up substantially. Readmission happens when you’re discharged from the hospital, spend some time at home, and then have to go back to the hospital. Sometimes this takes place because a complication occurs. In other instances, readmission might result from a new issue, or because the initial problem wasn’t properly addressed.

Increased chances of readmission

So why are those with untreated hearing loss more likely to be readmitted to the hospital? This occurs for a couple of reasons:

  • When your doctors and nurses give you guidelines you might not hear them very well because of your untreated hearing loss. You won’t be able to effectively do your physical therapy, for example, if you fail to hear the guidelines from your physical therapist. This can result in a longer recovery time while you’re in the hospital as well as a longer recovery once you’re out.
  • If you can’t hear your recovery directions, you won’t know how to care for yourself as you recover at home. You have a higher likelihood of reinjuring yourself if you’re not even aware that you didn’t hear the instructions.

For example, let’s say you’ve recently undergone knee replacement surgery. Your surgeon might tell you not to take a shower for the next 3 weeks, but you hear 3 days instead. Now your wound is in danger of getting a serious infection (one that could land you back at the hospital).

Keeping track of your hearing aids

The solution might seem simple at first glance: you just need to use your hearing aids! Regrettably, hearing loss often progresses very gradually, and people with hearing loss may not always realize they are feeling its effects. The solution here is to schedule a hearing test with us.

Even if you do have a set of hearing aids (and you should), there’s another complication: you might lose them. Hospital visits are often very chaotic. So the probability of losing your hearing aid is definitely present. Knowing how to deal with hearing aids during a hospital stay can help you remain involved in your care.

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

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. There are some simple things you can do:

  • Be aware of your battery power. 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 informed you are about your hearing loss, the less chance there is for a miscommunication to happen.
  • Don’t forget your case. It’s very important to use a case for your hearing aids. They will be able to be better taken care of that way.
  • Urge your loved ones to advocate on your behalf. You should always be advocating for yourself in a hospital setting.
  • Use your hearing aids whenever you can, and keep them in their case when you aren’t wearing them.

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

Hearing is a health issue

It’s important to acknowledge that your hearing health and your general health are closely linked. After all, your hearing can have a significant affect on your overall health. In a lot of ways, hearing loss is no different than a broken arm, in that each of these health issues calls for prompt treatment in order to avoid possible complications.

You don’t have to be like Tom. 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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