Female doctor communicating with older man who has hearing loss in wheelchair examining reports at the hospital corridor.

Tom is excited, he’s getting a new knee! 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 this knee replacement. So Tom goes in, the operation is a success, and Tom goes home!

That’s when things take a turn.

The knee doesn’t heal properly. An infection sets in, and Tom ends up back in the hospital for another knee surgery. It’s becoming less thrilling for Tom by the minute. 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’s not that Tom didn’t want to follow those recovery guidelines. Tom actually never even heard the instructions. It just so happens 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

By now, you’re most likely familiar with the common disadvantages of hearing loss: you grow more distant from your loved ones, you raise your risk of social solitude, and have an increased risk of developing cognitive decline. But there can be additional, less obvious disadvantages to hearing loss, too, some of which we’re just starting to truly understand.

One of those relationships that’s becoming more apparent is that hearing loss can result in an increase in emergency room visits. People who suffer from untreated hearing loss have a greater risk of going to the emergency room by 17% and will be 44% more likely to have to be readmitted later, according to one study.

Is there a link?

This might be the case for a couple of reasons.

  • Your possibility of readmission considerably increases once you’re in the hospital. But when you’re released and go home for a time but then have to go back to the hospital, readmission occurs. Sometimes this takes place because a complication occurs. Readmission can also happen because the original problem wasn’t correctly managed or even from a new issue.
  • Untreated hearing loss can negatively affect your situational awareness. If you’re not aware of your surroundings, you may be more likely to have a car accident or stub your toe. These kinds of injuries can, obviously, send you to the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).

Increased risk of readmission

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

  • When your doctors and nurses give you guidelines you may not hear them very well because of your neglected 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. 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 instructions. You have an increased likelihood of reinjuring yourself if you’re not even aware that you didn’t hear the instructions.

For instance, let’s pretend you’ve recently had knee replacement surgery. Your surgeon might tell you not to take a shower for the next 3 weeks, but you hear 3 days instead. And you could find yourself back in the hospital with a severe infection.

Keeping track of your hearing aids

The solution might seem straight-forward at first glance: you just need to use your hearing aids! Sadly, in the early phases of hearing loss, it often goes undetected because of how slowly it develops. Coming in to see us for a hearing test is the solution here.

Even after you’ve taken the measures and invested in a pair of hearing aids, there’s still the possibility of losing them. It’s frequently a chaotic scene when you need 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 stay engaged in your care when you’re in the hospital if you know how to deal with your hearing aid.

Tips for prepping for a hospital visit when you have hearing loss

Knowing how to get ready for a hospital stay when you’re dealing with hearing loss can prevent lots of headaches (and other discomfort) in the future. There are some easy things you can do:

  • Keep your eye on your battery’s charge. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if necessary.
  • Whenever you can, wear your hearing aids, and put them in their case when you’re not using them.
  • Urge your loved ones to advocate for you. You should always be advocating for yourself in a hospital setting.
  • 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.
  • Don’t forget to bring your case. Using a case for your hearing aid is very important. They will be able to be better cared for that way.

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

Hearing is a health issue

It’s important to realize that your hearing health and your overall health are closely related. After all, your hearing can have a significant affect on your general health. Hearing loss is like any other health issue in that it needs to be addressed right away.

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.

Medical information dates as new research comes out all the time - if you have a concern about your hearing, please call us.

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