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 brand new knee! Look, as you age, the kinds of things you get excited about change. He will be able to move moving around more freely and will have less pain with this knee replacement. So Tom goes in, the operation is successful, and Tom goes home!

But that’s not the end of it.

Sadly, the healing process doesn’t go as it should. An infection takes hold, and Tom winds up back in the hospital for another knee surgery. It’s becoming less exciting for Tom by the minute. The doctors and nurses have come to the conclusion that Tom wasn’t following their advice and guidelines for recovery.

Tom didn’t purposely deviate from the guidelines. The issue is that he never heard them. It just so happens that there is a solid link between hospital visits and hearing loss, so Tom isn’t alone.

More hospital visits can be the result of hearing loss

The typical disadvantages of hearing loss are something that most individuals are already familiar with: you become more distant from your loved ones, you raise your risk of social solitude, and have an increased danger of developing cognitive decline. But there can be added, less apparent disadvantages to hearing loss, too, some of which we’re just starting to actually understand.

One of those relationships that’s becoming more evident is that hearing loss can lead to an increase in emergency room visits. One study found that people with hearing loss have a 17% greater danger of needing a trip to the emergency room and a 44% higher chance of readmission later.

What’s the link?

This might be the case for a couple of reasons.

  • Your situational awareness can be impacted negatively by untreated hearing loss. If you’re not aware of your surroundings, you may be more likely to get into a car accident or stub your toe. These types of injuries can, of course, land you in the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).
  • Your likelihood of readmission significantly increases once you’re in the hospital. But when you’re discharged 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. In other cases, readmission might be the outcome of a new problem, or because the initial problem wasn’t addressed correctly.

Increased risk of readmission

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

  • When your doctors and nurses give you instructions you may not hear them very well because of your untreated hearing loss. For instance, if you can’t understand 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 duration could be greatly increased.
  • Taking care of yourself after you get home will be practically impossible if you don’t hear the instructions. If you can’t hear the instructions (and particularly if you don’t know you aren’t hearing your instructions properly), you’re more likely to reinjure yourself.

For example, let’s say you’ve recently undergone knee replacement surgery. Maybe you’re not supposed to shower for three weeks but you thought your doctor said three days. Now your wound is in danger of getting a serious infection (one that could put you back at the hospital).

Keeping track of your hearing aids

At first glance, the solution here may seem simple: you just need to wear your hearing aids! Regrettably, hearing loss often progresses very slowly, and people with hearing loss may not always recognize they are experiencing symptoms. Coming in to see us for a hearing exam is the solution here.

Even after you’ve taken the steps 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 need to go in for a hospital stay. So the probability of losing your hearing aid is absolutely present. You will be better able to remain engaged in your care when you’re in the hospital if you know how to handle your hearing aid.

Tips for taking your hearing aids with you during a hospital stay

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:

  • Make sure that the hospital staff is aware of your hearing loss. The more educated you are about your hearing loss, the less likelihood there is for a miscommunication to occur.
  • Keep your eye on your battery’s charge. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if necessary.
  • Urge your loved ones to advocate on your behalf. You should always be advocating for yourself in a hospital setting.
  • Bring your case with you. It’s really important to have a case for your hearing aids. This will make them much easier to keep track of.
  • Whenever you can, use your hearing aids, and keep them in their case when you aren’t using them.

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 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 impact on your general health. Hearing loss is like any other health issue in that it needs to be treated right away.

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.