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 new knee! Hey, the things you look forward to change as you age. He will be capable of moving around more easily and will experience less pain with his new knee. So Tom is admitted, the operation is successful, and Tom goes home!

That’s when things go wrong.

Regrettably, the healing process doesn’t go as it should. An infection sets in, and Tom winds up back in the hospital for another knee surgery. Tom is not as psyched by this point. The doctors and nurses have come to the realization that Tom wasn’t adhering to their advice and guidelines for recovery.

Tom didn’t purposely deviate from the guidelines. The problem 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 outcome of hearing loss

The typical disadvantages of hearing loss are something that most individuals are already acquainted with: you have the tendency to socially separate yourself, causing you to become more removed from friends and loved ones, and you raise your danger of developing dementia. But we’re finally beginning to comprehend some of the less evident disadvantages to hearing loss.

One of those relationships that’s becoming more apparent is that hearing loss can lead to an increase in emergency room visits. People 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 need to be readmitted later on, as reported by one study.

Is there a link?

There are a couple of reasons why this could be.

  • Your chance of readmission substantially increases once you’re in the hospital. But when you’re discharged and go home for a time but then need to go back to the hospital, readmission occurs. Sometimes this happens because a complication occurs. Readmission can also happen because the original problem wasn’t correctly managed or even from a new problem.
  • 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 aren’t aware of your surroundings. These sorts of injuries can, obviously, land you in the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).

Risk of readmission is increased

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

  • When your doctors and nurses give you instructions you might not hear them very well because of your neglected hearing loss. You won’t be able to effectively do your physical therapy, for instance, if you fail to hear the guidelines from your physical therapist. This can result in a longer recovery period while you’re in the hospital and also a longer recovery once you’re discharged.
  • If you can’t hear your recovery instructions, you won’t know how to care for yourself as you recover at home. 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 example, you’ve recently undergone surgery to replace your knee. Your surgeon may tell you not to shower for the next 3 weeks, but you hear 3 days instead. Now your wound is at risk of developing a serious infection (one that could put you back at the hospital).

Keeping track of your hearing aids

The answer may seem simple at first glimpse: you just need to wear your hearing aids! Regrettably, hearing loss often progresses very gradually, and those with hearing loss may not always realize they are experiencing symptoms. Coming in to see us for a hearing exam is the solution here.

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

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

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

  • Make sure that the hospital staff is aware of your hearing loss. The more educated you are about your hearing loss, the less likelihood there is for a miscommunication to occur.
  • Whenever you can, use your hearing aids, and keep them in their case when you aren’t wearing them.
  • Don’t forget your case. Using a case for your hearing aid is very important. This will make them a lot easier to keep track of.
  • Encourage your loved ones to advocate on your behalf. You should always be advocating for yourself in a hospital setting.
  • 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 key here. Your doctors and nurses should be told about your hearing loss.

Hearing is a health concern

It’s important to understand that your hearing health and your general health are closely related. After all your general health can be significantly affected by your hearing. Hearing loss is like any other health problem in that it needs to be addressed right away.

The ability 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.

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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.

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