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! Look, as you grow older, the types of things you get excited about change. He will be capable of moving around more easily and will have less pain with his new knee. So Tom goes in, the operation is successful, and Tom heads home!

But that isn’t the end of it.

The knee doesn’t heal as well as it should. Tom finds himself back in the hospital with an infection and will need another surgery. Tom is not as psyched by this point. As the nurses and doctors attempt to figure out what occurred, it becomes clear that Tom wasn’t following his recovery guidelines.

Tom didn’t purposely deviate from the instructions. Tom actually never even heard the instructions. Tom can feel a little better in the fact that he isn’t alone: there’s a solid link between hearing loss and hospital visits.

More hospital visits can be the result of hearing loss

The typical disadvantages of hearing loss are something that most people are already familiar with: you tend to socially isolate 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 understand some of the less obvious disadvantages to hearing loss.

Increased emergency room visits is one of those relationships that’s becoming more clear. One study discovered that individuals with hearing loss have a 17% greater risk of requiring a visit to the emergency room and a 44% higher risk of readmission later.

What’s the link?

This could be the situation for a couple of reasons.

  • Once you’re in the hospital, your chance of readmission goes up substantially. 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 happen that result in this readmission. In other cases, readmission may result from a new issue, or because the original issue wasn’t addressed correctly.
  • Untreated hearing loss can negatively impact your situational awareness. Anything from a stubbed toe to a car accident will be more likely to occur if you’re not aware of what’s around you. Obviously, you could end up in the hospital due to this.

Risk of readmission is increased

Why is readmission more likely for individuals who have untreated hearing loss? This happens for a couple of reasons:

  • If you have untreated hearing loss, you might not be able to hear the instructions that your nurses and doctors give you. For example, if you can’t understand what your physical therapist is telling you to do, you will be unable 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’re unable to hear your recovery directions, you won’t know how to care for yourself as you recover at home. You have an increased likelihood of reinjuring yourself if you’re not even aware that you didn’t hear the instructions.

Let’s say, for example, you’ve recently undergone surgery to replace your knee. Your surgeon may 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 serious infection.

Keeping track of your hearing aids

The answer might seem straight-forward at first glance: you just need to wear your hearing aids! Sadly, in the early phases of hearing loss, it frequently goes unnoticed because of how slowly it progresses. The solution here is to make an appointment for a hearing exam with us.

Even if you do have a set of hearing aids (and you should), there’s another situation: you could lose them. It’s often a chaotic scene when you need to go in for a hospital stay. So the probability of losing your hearing aid is definitely present. Knowing how to handle hearing aids during a hospital stay can help you remain engaged in your care.

Tips for getting prepared for a hospital stay when you have hearing loss

If you have hearing loss and you’re going in for a hospital stay, many of the headaches and discomfort can be avoided by knowing how to prepare. There are some simple things you can do:

  • Whenever you can, use your hearing aids, and when you aren’t using them, make certain to keep them in the case.
  • Keep your eye on your battery’s charge. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if necessary.
  • 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.
  • In a hospital environment, always advocate for yourself and ask your loved ones to advocate for you.
  • Don’t forget your case. Having a case for your hearing aid is very important. This will make them a lot easier to keep track of.

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

Hearing loss can cause health problems

It’s important to acknowledge that your hearing health and your overall health are closely related. After all your overall health can be considerably impacted by your hearing. Hearing loss is like any other health issue in that it needs to be treated as soon as possible.

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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