When You’re Hospitalized, Hearing Loss Can Lead to Complications

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

Tom is getting a brand new knee and he’s really jazzed! Hey, the things you get excited about change as you get older. His knee replacement means he will suffer from less pain and be able to get around a lot better. So the operation is a success and Tom goes home.

But that’s not the end of it.

The knee doesn’t heal as well as it should. An infection takes hold, and Tom ends up back in the hospital for another knee surgery. Tom isn’t as excited by this point. The doctors and nurses have come to the realization that Tom wasn’t adhering to their advice and instructions for recovery.

So here’s the thing: it isn’t that Tom didn’t want to observe those recovery guidelines. Tom actually never even heard the instructions. Tom can take some comfort in the fact that he’s not alone: there’s a solid connection between hospital visits and hearing loss.

Hearing loss can contribute to more hospital visits

By now, you’re probably familiar with the typical drawbacks of hearing loss: you tend to socially isolate yourself, causing you to become more removed from friends and family, and you raise your danger of developing cognitive decline. But we’re finally beginning to understand some of the less apparent disadvantages to hearing loss.

Increased emergency room visits is one of those relationships that’s becoming more apparent. One study discovered that people with hearing loss have a 17% greater risk of needing a visit to the emergency room and a 44% increased chance of readmission later on.

Is there a connection?

This could be the case for a couple of reasons.

  • Your possibility of readmission substantially increases once you’re in the hospital. Readmission happens when you are discharged from the hospital, spend some time at home, and then need to go back to the hospital. Sometimes this takes place because a complication occurs. Readmission can also occur because the initial issue wasn’t correctly managed or even from a new problem.
  • Untreated hearing loss can negatively affect your situational awareness. If you aren’t aware of your surroundings, you may be more likely to have a car accident or stub your toe. These kinds of injuries can, of course, send you to the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).

Increased chances of readmission

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

  • When your nurses and doctors give you instructions you may not hear them very well because of your untreated hearing loss. You won’t be able to properly 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 duration could be greatly increased.
  • Caring for yourself after you get home will be practically impossible if you don’t hear the guidelines. If you can’t hear the instructions (and especially if you’re not aware that 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 take a shower for three weeks but you thought your doctor said three days. And you might find yourself back in the hospital with a severe infection.

Keeping track of your hearing aids

The answer might seem simple at first glance: you just need to use your hearing aids! Regrettably, hearing loss usually progresses very slowly, and individuals with hearing loss might not always recognize they are feeling its effects. The solution here is to schedule a hearing test with us.

Even if you do have a pair of hearing aids (and you should), there’s another situation: you could 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 definitely present. Knowing how to deal with hearing aids during a hospital stay can help you remain involved in your care.

Tips for preparing for a hospital stay when you have hearing loss

Knowing how to prepare for a hospital stay when you’re dealing with hearing loss can avert a lot of headaches (and other discomfort) in the future. Here are a number of basic things you can do:

  • In a hospital setting, you should always advocate for yourself and ask your family to advocate for you.
  • Whenever you can, wear your hearing aids, and keep them in their case when you aren’t using them.
  • Take your case with you. It’s really important to have a case for your hearing aids. This will make them a lot easier to keep track of.
  • Be aware 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 informed you are about your hearing loss, the less chance there is for a miscommunication to occur.

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

Hearing loss can cause health issues

So perhaps it’s time to stop thinking of hearing health and your general wellness as two totally different things. After all your overall health can be considerably affected by your hearing. In a lot of ways, hearing loss is the same as a broken arm, in that each of these health problems requires prompt treatment in order to avoid possible complications.

The power to avoid Tom’s fate is in your hands. The next time you find yourself in the hospital, make sure your hearing aids are nearby.

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.