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 getting a new knee and he’s really jazzed! Look, as you grow older, the kinds of things you look forward to change. His knee replacement means he will experience less pain and be able to get out and about a lot better. So Tom is admitted, the operation is successful, and Tom goes home!

That’s when things take a turn.

Unfortunately, the healing process doesn’t go very well. An infection sets in, and Tom winds up back in the hospital for another knee surgery. It’s getting less exciting for Tom by the minute. As the doctors and nurses try to figure out what occurred, it becomes evident that Tom wasn’t following his recovery guidelines.

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

Hearing loss can result in more hospital visits

At this point, you’re probably familiar with the typical disadvantages of hearing loss: you tend to socially separate yourself, causing you to become more removed from friends and loved ones, and you raise your danger of developing cognitive decline. But we’re finally beginning to comprehend some of the less evident drawbacks to hearing loss.

Increased emergency room trips is one of those relationships that’s becoming more apparent. Individuals who struggle with neglected hearing loss have a greater danger of going to the emergency room by 17% and will be 44% more likely to need to be readmitted later on, according to one study.

Is there a connection?

This could be the case for a couple of reasons.

  • Your situational awareness can be impacted negatively by untreated hearing loss. If you aren’t aware of your surroundings, you might be more likely to have a car accident or stub your toe. Of course, you could end up in the hospital due to this.
  • Your possibility of readmission considerably increases once you’re in the hospital. Readmission occurs when you are discharged 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 initial problem wasn’t correctly managed or even from a new problem.

Increased chances of readmission

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

  • If you have neglected hearing loss, you might not be able to hear the instructions that your nurses and doctors give you. You won’t be able to effectively do your physical therapy, for example, if you fail to hear the guidelines from your physical therapist. Whether you’re still in the hospital or at home, your recovery period could be greatly increased.
  • Caring for yourself after you get home will be nearly impossible if you don’t hear the guidelines. If you can’t hear the instructions (and particularly if you’re not aware that you aren’t hearing your instructions properly), you’re more likely to reinjure yourself.

Let’s say, for example, you’ve recently undergone surgery to replace your knee. Perhaps you’re not supposed to shower for three weeks but you thought your doctor said three days. And you might find yourself back in the hospital with a severe infection.

Keeping track of your hearing aids

The answer may seem simple at first glimpse: you just need to use your hearing aids! Regrettably, hearing loss usually advances very slowly, and individuals with hearing loss may not always realize they are experiencing symptoms. 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 chance you may lose them. It’s frequently a chaotic scene when you have to go in for a hospital stay. Which means there’s a lot of potential of losing your hearing aids. 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 taking 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, a lot of the headaches and discomfort can be avoided by knowing how to get yourself ready. There are some simple things you can do:

  • Wear your hearing aids whenever you can, and put them in their case when you’re not using them.
  • Be aware of your battery power. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if necessary.
  • Urge your loved ones to advocate for you. You should always be advocating for yourself in a hospital setting.
  • Take your case with you. It’s very important to have a case for your hearing aids. They will be able to be better cared for that way.
  • Make sure that the hospital staff is aware of your hearing loss. Miscommunication will be less likely if they are well informed about your situation.

The trick here is to communicate with the hospital at every stage. Your doctors and nurses should be made aware of your hearing loss.

Hearing is a health issue

So maybe it’s time to stop thinking of hearing health and your overall wellness as two completely different things. After all your general health can be significantly impacted by your hearing. In many ways, hearing loss is the same as a broken arm, in that each of these health issues requires prompt treatment in order to prevent possible complications.

You don’t need to be like Tom. The next time you find yourself in the hospital, make certain 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.