The Effects of Untreated Hearing Loss on Health Care Results

Man hospitalized from a fall related to his untreated hearing loss.

Research shows that about 43% of patients over the age of 60 may be missing important health information due to hearing loss. At a time when following medical guidance is so critical, patients could be missing important details about their care.

There is a Global Hearing Epidemic

Hearing loss isn’t a small situation. Globally, a third of individuals who are 65 or older have disabling hearing loss.

If we go further, we find that surprisingly only around 30% of those same seniors suffering from hearing loss have, or make use of, treatments that would benefit their hearing. This pattern isn’t good news for healthcare as we’ll show next.

The Significance of Communication in Medical Care

A major cause of death is medical error and miscommunication is a primary cause of medical error. Up to 37% of severe injuries that were a result of medical errors, according to a Harvard study, wouldn’t have occurred if communication had been stronger. An improved ability to communicate crucial information with patients could save lives.

How Medical Care is Affected by Hearing Loss

Statistics can seem a bit fuzzy and intangible so let’s consider some important info you could miss when talking to pharmacists, nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals.

With regards to reaching health goals, the advice of health care professionals is a crucial element. They may explain what healthy levels are for things like blood sugar or blood pressure. They may tell you to stay away from certain foods to prevent spikes in these levels that can be harmful. You may be missing important pieces of advice that would help you manage your condition.

These medical providers may explain danger zones that indicate that you require medical care. You may not get the help that you require because you didn’t fully understand what your doctor was saying.

There may be crucial details about dangerous side effects of medications which your pharmacist is attempting to warn you about. You think you heard everything but you lose a critical detail and wind up in the hospital.

Your physical therapist gets you started with a strength-building regimen but warns you against a specific activity. You miss the recommendation and sustain a serious fall as a result.

It’s Particularly Challenging to Communicate Medical Data

Discussing medical data is particularly challenging because of a little thing known as context. When you miss some piece of information due to your hearing loss, you make use of context to attempt to fill in what you missed. Compensating for hearing loss is something your brain is actually pretty good at. So good, in fact, that it may even make you believe that you heard something you didn’t actually hear.

The meaning of a sentence can be totally altered, when dealing with medical information, with something as simple as a “don’t” or “not”. A danger zone, goal, or dosage, could be
totally changed with one missed number.

In medical care the slightest details matter. Missing them has been shown to result in medical errors.

Getting Assistance For Hearing Loss

You could be missing essential medical advice if you have hearing loss. Now is the time to take the proper steps to conserve your hearing.

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