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 getting a brand new knee and he’s super pumped! Hey, the things you look forward to change as you get older. He will be able to move moving around more easily and will have less pain with this knee replacement. So the operation is successful 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. It’s getting less thrilling for Tom by the minute. As the nurses and doctors try to figure out what occurred, it becomes clear that Tom wasn’t following his recovery instructions.

Tom didn’t purposely ignore the instructions. Tom actually never even heard the instructions. It turns out that there is a solid connection between hospital visits and hearing loss, so Tom isn’t by himself.

Hearing loss can lead to more hospital visits

At this point, you’re probably familiar with the common drawbacks of hearing loss: you have the tendency to socially isolate yourself, causing you to become more removed from friends and family, and you raise your danger of developing dementia. But we’re finally beginning to understand some of the less apparent disadvantages to hearing loss.

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

Is there a link?

This might be the case for a couple of reasons.

  • Untreated hearing loss can negatively impact your situational awareness. If you’re not aware of your surroundings, you might be more likely to get into a car accident or stub your toe. These sorts 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 released and go home for a time but then need to go back to the hospital, readmission happens. Complications sometimes occur that result in this readmission. In other instances, readmission may result from a new problem, or because the initial problem wasn’t addressed correctly.

Risk of readmission increases

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

  • If you have untreated hearing loss, you might not be able to hear the instructions that your doctors and nurses give you. For instance, if you can’t hear what your physical therapist is telling you to do, you will be unable to do your physical therapy treatment as well as you otherwise would. Whether you’re still in the hospital or at home, your recovery time could be greatly increased.
  • If you can’t hear your recovery directions, you won’t know how to care for yourself as you continue recovering at home. You have an increased chance of reinjuring yourself if you’re not even aware that you didn’t hear the instructions.

For example, let’s say you’ve recently had knee replacement surgery. Your surgeon might tell you not to shower for the next 3 weeks, but you hear 3 days instead. Now your wound is in danger of developing a serious infection (one that could put you back at the hospital).

Keeping track of your hearing aids

At first glimpse, the solution here may seem simple: just wear your hearing aids! Regrettably, hearing loss usually progresses very gradually, and individuals with hearing loss might not always recognize they are experiencing symptoms. The solution here is to make an appointment for a hearing exam with us.

Even after you’ve taken the steps and invested in a set of hearing aids, there’s still the possibility of losing them. It’s frequently a chaotic scene when you need to go in for a hospital stay. 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 involved in your care.

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

If you’re dealing with 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 number of basic things you can do:

  • Use your hearing aids when you can, and keep them in their case when you aren’t wearing them.
  • Communicate to hospital staff about your hearing loss. The more educated you are about your hearing loss, the less likelihood there is for a miscommunication to happen.
  • In a hospital environment, always advocate for yourself and ask your loved ones to advocate for you.
  • Keep your eye on your battery’s charge. Bring spares if you need them and charge your hearing aids when you can.
  • Don’t forget your case. It’s really important to have a case for your hearing aids. This will make them much easier to keep track of.

Communication with the hospital at every stage is the trick here. Be certain that you’re telling your nurses and doctors about your hearing loss.

Hearing loss can cause health problems

It’s important to recognize that your hearing health and your overall health are closely linked. After all your general health can be significantly impacted by your hearing. Hearing loss is like any other health issue in that it needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

You don’t have to be like Tom. The next time you find yourself in the hospital, be certain that 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.