When You're Hospitalized, Hearing Loss Can Cause Complications

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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 super pumped! Hey, the things you look forward to change as you age. He will be able to move moving around more easily and will have less pain with his new knee. So Tom is admitted, the operation is successful, and Tom goes home!

That’s when things go wrong.

The knee doesn’t heal properly. An infection sets in, and Tom winds up back in the hospital for another knee surgery. Tom isn’t as psyched by this point. The nurses and doctors have come to the conclusion that Tom wasn’t following their advice and guidelines for recovery.

Tom didn’t purposely deviate from the guidelines. The issue is that he didn’t hear them. Tom can take some comfort in the fact that he isn’t by himself: there’s a strong link between hearing loss and hospital visits.

Hearing loss can contribute to more hospital visits

At this point, you’re likely familiar with the common drawbacks of hearing loss: you grow more distant from your loved ones, you increase your risk of social solitude, and have an increased danger of getting cognitive decline. But there can be additional, less obvious drawbacks 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 discovered that people with hearing loss have a 17% greater danger of needing a trip to the emergency room and a 44% higher risk of readmission later on.

What’s the link?

There are a couple of reasons why this could be.

  • Untreated hearing loss can negatively affect your situational awareness. Anything from a stubbed toe to a car accident will be more likely to occur if you’re not aware of your surroundings. These sorts of injuries can, of course, land you in the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).
  • Your likelihood of readmission considerably increases once you’re in the hospital. Readmission happens when you are discharged 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 might result from a new issue, or because the original problem wasn’t properly addressed.

Chances of readmission is increased

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

  • If you have neglected hearing loss, you might not be able to hear the instructions that your doctors and nurses give you. For example, 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 might. Whether you’re still in the hospital or at home, your recovery duration could be greatly increased.
  • Caring for yourself after you get home will be practically impossible if you don’t hear the instructions. If you’re unable to hear the instructions (and especially if you don’t know you aren’t hearing your instructions properly), you’re more likely to reinjure yourself.

For instance, let’s pretend you’ve recently undergone knee replacement surgery. 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 serious infection (one that could put you back at the hospital).

Keeping track of your hearing aids

The answer may seem straight-forward at first glimpse: just wear your hearing aids! Sadly, in the early stages of hearing loss, it frequently goes unnoticed because of how slowly it progresses. Coming in to see us for a hearing test is the solution here.

Even if you do have a set of hearing aids (and you should), there’s another situation: you could lose them. Hospital visits are frequently quite 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 getting prepared for a hospital visit when you have hearing loss

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. Here are a few basic 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.
  • Bring your case with you. It’s really important to use a case for your hearing aids. They will be able to be better taken care of that way.
  • Encourage your loved ones to advocate on your behalf. You should always be advocating on your own behalf in a hospital setting.
  • Be aware of your battery power. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if needed.
  • Whenever you can, wear your hearing aids, and put them in their case when you’re not wearing them.

The key here is to communicate with the hospital at every phase. Be sure you’re telling your nurses and physicians 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 hearing can have a considerable impact on your general health. Hearing loss is like any other health problem in that it needs to be treated as soon as possible.

The ability to avoid Tom’s fate is in your hands. The next time you find yourself in the hospital, make certain your hearing aids are nearby.

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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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