Hearing Loss Can Result in 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 age, the kinds of things you get excited about change. He will be able to move moving around more freely and will experience less pain with his new knee. So Tom goes in, the operation is a success, and Tom goes home!

That’s when things take a turn.

The knee doesn’t heal properly. Tom finds himself back in the hospital with an infection and will need another surgery. It’s becoming less thrilling for Tom by the minute. As the doctors and nurses try to determine what occurred, it becomes evident that Tom wasn’t adhering to his recovery instructions.

Tom didn’t purposely ignore the instructions. 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 hearing loss and hospital visits.

More hospital visits can be the outcome of hearing loss

The common disadvantages of hearing loss are something that most people 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 risk of developing cognitive decline. But we’re finally beginning to understand some of the less evident 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 trips. Individuals who struggle with untreated hearing loss have a higher danger of taking a trip to the emergency room by 17% and will be 44% more likely to have to be readmitted later, according to one study.

Is there a link?

This could be the situation for a couple of reasons.

  • Untreated 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 what’s around you. Of course, you could end up in the hospital because of this.
  • Once you’re in the hospital, your potential of readmission goes up significantly. Readmission happens when you are released from the hospital, spend some time at home, and then need to go back to the hospital. Complications sometimes occur that lead to this readmission. Readmission can also occur because the initial issue wasn’t properly managed or even from a new issue.

Increased chances of readmission

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 untreated hearing loss, you may not be able to hear the instructions that your doctors and nurses give you. You won’t be able to effectively do your physical therapy, for example, if you fail to hear the instructions 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 nearly impossible if you don’t hear the guidelines. If you can’t hear the instructions (and especially if you don’t know you aren’t hearing your instructions properly), you’re more likely to reinjure yourself.

Let’s say, for instance, you’ve recently had surgery to replace your knee. Your surgeon may tell you not to take a shower for the next 3 weeks, but you hear 3 days instead. Now your wound is at risk of developing a severe infection (one that could put you back at the hospital).

Keeping track of your hearing aids

At first glimpse, the answer here may seem simple: just wear your hearing aids! Sadly, in the early stages of hearing loss, it frequently goes unnoticed because of how gradually it progresses. The solution here is to make an appointment for a hearing exam with us.

Even if you do have a pair of hearing aids (and you should), there’s another complication: you could lose them. Hospital trips are often rather chaotic. Which means there’s lots of potential to lose your hearing aids. Knowing how to handle 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

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 prepare. There are some easy things you can do:

  • Take your case with you. Having a case for your hearing aid is very important. They will be able to be better taken care of that way.
  • In a hospital setting, always advocate for yourself and ask your family to advocate for you.
  • Wear your hearing aids whenever you can, and when you aren’t wearing them, make sure to keep them in the case.
  • 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 likelihood there is for a miscommunication to occur.

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

Hearing loss can cause health issues

So maybe it’s time to stop thinking of hearing health and your general wellness as two completely different things. After all your overall health can be significantly impacted by your hearing. Hearing loss is like any other health problem in that it needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

You don’t have to be like Tom. Keep your hearing aids close the next time you need to go in for a hospital stay.

The content of this blog is the intellectual property of MedPB.com and is reprinted here with permission.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive a personalized free hearing test and hearing loss consultation, call today to set up an appointment.

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