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 thrilled, he’s getting a new knee! Hey, the things you look forward to change as you get older. He will be capable of moving around more freely and will have less pain with this knee replacement. So Tom is admitted, the operation is a success, and Tom goes home!

That’s when things take a turn.

The knee doesn’t heal properly. An infection takes hold, and Tom winds up back in the hospital for another knee surgery. It’s getting less thrilling for Tom by the minute. As the nurses and doctors attempt to determine what occurred, it becomes clear that Tom wasn’t following his recovery guidelines.

So here’s the thing: it isn’t that Tom didn’t want to follow those recovery guidelines. The problem is that he never heard them. Tom can feel a little better in the fact that he’s not by himself: there’s a solid link between hearing loss and hospital visits.

Hearing loss can result in more hospital visits

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

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

What’s the link?

This could be the case for a couple of reasons.

  • Neglected hearing loss can negatively affect your situational awareness. Anything from a stubbed toe to a car accident will be more likely to happen if you’re not aware of your surroundings. Obviously, you could wind up in the hospital due to this.
  • Once you’re in the hospital, your likelihood of readmission increases significantly. Readmission happens when you are discharged from the hospital, spend some time at home, and then need to go back to the hospital. Complications sometimes happen that lead to this readmission. In other instances, readmission might result from a new issue, or because the initial issue wasn’t addressed correctly.

Risk of readmission is increased

So why are those with untreated hearing loss more likely to be readmitted to the hospital? There are a couple of reasons for this:

  • If you have neglected hearing loss, you might not be able to hear the instructions that your doctors and nurses give you. 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 period could be greatly increased.
  • Caring for yourself after you get home will be nearly impossible if you don’t hear the guidelines. If you’re unable to 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 instance, 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 severe infection.

Keeping track of your hearing aids

The solution might seem straight-forward at first glance: you just need to wear your hearing aids! Unfortunately, hearing loss usually advances very gradually, and people with hearing loss might not always recognize they are feeling its effects. Coming in to see us for a hearing test is the solution here.

Even if you do have a set of hearing aids (and you should), there’s another situation: you might lose them. Hospital visits are often rather chaotic. So the probability of losing your hearing aid is absolutely present. Knowing how to deal with hearing aids during a hospital stay can help you remain engaged in your care.

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

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

  • Wear your hearing aids whenever you can, and keep them in their case when you’re not using them.
  • Don’t forget to bring your case. It’s really important to use a case for your hearing aids. They will be able to be better cared for that way.
  • Communicate to hospital staff about your hearing loss. Miscommunication will be less likely if they are well notified about your situation.
  • In a hospital environment, you should always advocate for yourself and ask your loved ones to advocate for you.
  • Be mindful of your battery power. Bring spares if you need them and charge your hearing aids when you can.

Communication with the hospital at every phase is the trick here. Be sure you’re telling your nurses and physicians about your hearing loss.

Hearing loss can cause health issues

It’s important to acknowledge that your hearing health and your general health are closely related. After all, your hearing can have a significant affect on your overall health. In a lot of ways, hearing loss is the same as a broken arm, in that each of these health problems calls for prompt treatment in order to prevent possible complications.

The power to avoid Tom’s fate is in your hands. Keep your hearing aids close the next time you have 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.