Hearing Health Blog

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 new knee! Look, as you age, the kinds of things you get excited about change. His knee replacement means he will feel less pain and be able to get out and about a lot better. So the operation is a success and Tom goes home.

That’s when things go wrong.

Regrettably, the healing process doesn’t go very well. An infection sets in, and Tom ends up back in the hospital for another knee surgery. It’s getting less exciting for Tom by the minute. The nurses and doctors have come to the realization that Tom wasn’t adhering to their advice and instructions for recovery.

So here’s the thing: it’s not that Tom didn’t want to observe those recovery guidelines. Tom actually never even heard the instructions. It just so happens that there is a solid link between hospital visits and hearing loss, so Tom isn’t by himself.

More hospital visits can be the result of hearing loss

At this point, you’re probably acquainted with the typical disadvantages of hearing loss: you tend to socially isolate yourself, causing you to become more removed from friends and loved ones, and you increase your danger of developing dementia. But there can be additional, less apparent drawbacks to hearing loss, too, some of which we’re just beginning to truly understand.

Increased emergency room trips is one of those relationships that’s becoming more evident. One study found that individuals with hearing loss have a 17% higher risk of needing a trip to the emergency room and a 44% higher risk of readmission later.

What’s the link?

There are a couple of reasons why this might be.

  • Your situational awareness can be impacted negatively by neglected hearing loss. Anything from a stubbed toe to a car accident will be more likely to happen if you aren’t aware of your surroundings. These types of injuries can, of course, land you in the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).
  • Your possibility of readmission considerably increases once you’re in the hospital. Readmission occurs when you’re released 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. Readmission can also happen because the initial problem wasn’t properly managed or even from a new problem.

Increased chances of readmission

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

  • When your doctors and nurses give you instructions you might not hear them very well because of your untreated hearing loss. For instance, if you can’t hear what your physical therapist is telling you to do, you will be unable to perform your physical therapy treatment as well as you otherwise would. 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 chance of reinjuring yourself if you’re not even aware that you didn’t hear the instructions.

For instance, 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. And you might find yourself back in the hospital with a severe infection.

Keeping track of your hearing aids

The solution may seem simple at first glimpse: you just need to wear your hearing aids! Sadly, in the early phases of hearing loss, it often goes undetected because of how slowly it progresses. Coming in to see us for a hearing test is the solution here.

Even after you’ve taken the steps and invested in a pair of hearing aids, there’s still the possibility of losing them. Hospital trips are frequently very chaotic. So the possibility of losing your hearing aid is absolutely 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 prevented by knowing how to get yourself ready. There are some easy things you can do:

  • Whenever you can, wear your hearing aids, and when you aren’t using them, make certain to keep them in the case.
  • Be mindful 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 educated you are about your hearing loss, the less chance there is for a miscommunication to occur.
  • Urge your loved ones to advocate on your behalf. You should always be advocating for yourself in a hospital setting.
  • Don’t forget your case. Having a case for your hearing aid is very important. This will make them much easier to keep track of.

Communication with the hospital at every stage is the trick here. Your doctors and nurses need to be told about your hearing loss.

Hearing is a health concern

So perhaps it’s time to stop thinking of hearing health and your overall wellness as two completely different things. After all, your hearing can have a substantial affect on your overall health. 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 avoid possible complications.

You don’t need 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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