Hearing Loss Can Bring About 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 new knee and he’s really jazzed! Hey, the things you look forward to change as you get older. His knee replacement means he will experience less pain and be able to get out and about a lot better. So Tom goes in, the operation is a success, and Tom goes home!

But that’s not the end of it.

The knee doesn’t heal properly. Tom finds himself back in the hospital with an infection and will require another surgery. Tom isn’t as psyched by this point. The doctors and nurses have come to the conclusion that Tom wasn’t following their advice and guidelines for recovery.

So here’s the thing: it isn’t that Tom didn’t want to observe those recovery guidelines. The issue is that he never heard them. It turns out that there is a strong connection between hospital visits and hearing loss, so Tom isn’t by himself.

More hospital visits can be the result of hearing loss

At this point, you’re most likely acquainted with the typical drawbacks of hearing loss: you grow more distant from your loved ones, you increase your risk of social solitude, and have an increased risk of getting dementia. But we’re finally starting to understand some of the less evident drawbacks to hearing loss.

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

Is there a link?

There are a couple of reasons why this could be.

  • Untreated hearing loss can negatively affect your situational awareness. Anything from a stubbed toe to a car accident will be more likely to take place if you’re not aware of your surroundings. These kinds of injuries can, obviously, land you in the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).
  • Once you’re in the hospital, your possibility of readmission increases considerably. Readmission occurs when you’re released from the hospital, spend some time at home, and then need to go back to the hospital. Sometimes this happens because a complication occurs. Readmission can also happen because the initial problem wasn’t correctly managed or even from a new issue.

Increased risk of readmission

Why is readmission more likely for people who have untreated hearing loss? 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. 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. This can result in a longer recovery period while you’re in the hospital and also a longer recovery once you’re out.
  • Taking care of yourself after you get home will be nearly impossible if you don’t hear the guidelines. You have a higher chance of reinjuring yourself if you’re not even aware that you didn’t hear the instructions.

Let’s say, for example, you’ve recently undergone surgery to replace your knee. Your surgeon might tell you not to take a shower for the next 3 weeks, but you hear 3 days instead. And you might find yourself back in the hospital with a serious infection.

Keeping track of your hearing aids

The solution might seem simple at first glimpse: just wear your hearing aids! Unfortunately, hearing loss usually advances very slowly, 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 after you’ve taken the steps and invested in a set of hearing aids, there’s still the possibility of losing them. Hospital visits are often really chaotic. Which means there’s a lot of potential of losing your hearing aids. Knowing how to handle hearing aids during a hospital stay can help you remain involved in your care.

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

Knowing how to get ready for a hospital stay when you have hearing loss can prevent a lot of headaches (and other discomfort) in the future. Here are a few basic things you can do:

  • Keep your eye on your battery’s charge. Bring spares if you need them and charge your hearing aids when you can.
  • Whenever you can, use your hearing aids, and when you aren’t wearing them, make certain to keep them in the case.
  • Take your case with you. It’s very important to use a case for your hearing aids. They will be able to be better taken care of that way.
  • In a hospital environment, you should always advocate for yourself and ask your family to advocate for you.
  • Make sure that the hospital staff is aware of your hearing loss. Miscommunication will be less likely if they are well informed about your situation.

Communication with the hospital at every phase is key here. Your doctors and nurses should be made aware of your hearing loss.

Hearing is a health issue

So perhaps it’s time to stop thinking of hearing health and your overall wellness as two totally different things. After all, your hearing can have a considerable impact on your general health. Hearing loss is like any other health issue in that it needs to be addressed right away.

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