Hearing Loss Can Cause Complications During Hospitalization

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 brand new knee! Look, as you grow older, the types of things you get excited about change. His knee replacement means he will experience less pain and be able to get around a lot better. So Tom goes in, the operation is a success, and Tom goes home!

But that’s not the end of it.

Sadly, the healing process doesn’t go as it should. Tom ends up back in the hospital with an infection and will need another surgery. Tom is not as psyched by this point. As the doctors and nurses try to determine what took place, it becomes evident that Tom wasn’t following his recovery instructions.

So here’s the thing: it isn’t that Tom didn’t want to follow those recovery instructions. The problem is that he didn’t hear them. 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 consequence of hearing loss

The common drawbacks of hearing loss are something that most individuals are already familiar with: you tend to socially separate yourself, causing you to become more distant from friends and loved ones, and you raise your danger of developing dementia. But there can be additional, less apparent drawbacks to hearing loss, too, some of which we’re just starting to truly understand.

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

Is there a link?

This could be the situation for a couple of reasons.

  • Once you’re in the hospital, your likelihood of readmission increases significantly. But when you’re released and go home for a time but then have to go back to the hospital, readmission happens. Complications sometimes occur that lead to this readmission. In other cases, readmission may result from a new problem, or because the original issue wasn’t addressed correctly.
  • Neglected hearing loss can negatively affect your situational awareness. Anything from a stubbed toe to a car accident will be more likely to take place if you aren’t aware of what’s around you. These kinds of injuries can, of course, land you in the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).

Increased risk of readmission

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

  • When your nurses and doctors give you instructions you might not hear them very well because of your neglected hearing loss. 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 period could be greatly increased.
  • Caring for yourself after you get home will be practically impossible if you don’t hear the guidelines. You have a higher chance of reinjuring yourself if you don’t even know that you didn’t hear the instructions.

For example, let’s say you’ve recently had knee replacement surgery. Maybe 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 serious infection.

Keeping track of your hearing aids

At first glimpse, the answer here may seem simple: just use your hearing aids! Sadly, in the early stages of hearing loss, it frequently goes undetected because of how gradually it advances. The solution here is to schedule a hearing test with us.

Even after you’ve taken the steps and invested in a pair of hearing aids, there’s still the possibility of losing them. Hospital visits are usually really chaotic. Which means there’s a lot of potential to lose your hearing aids. You will be better able to remain engaged in your care when you’re in the hospital if you know how to deal with your hearing aid.

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, a lot of the headaches and discomfort can be avoided by knowing how to prepare. Here are a few basic things you can do:

  • Urge your loved ones to advocate for you. You should always be advocating for yourself in a hospital setting.
  • Don’t forget your case. It’s very important to use a case for your hearing aids. They will be able to be better cared for that way.
  • Use your hearing aids when you can, and keep them in their case when you aren’t wearing them.
  • 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. Miscommunication will be less likely if they are well notified about your situation.

The trick here is to communicate with the hospital at every phase. Your doctors and nurses should 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 totally different things. After all your general health can be considerably affected by your hearing. Hearing loss is like any other health issue in that it needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

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.

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.