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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 get excited about change as you age. He will be able to move moving around more freely and will have less pain with his new knee. So the operation is successful and Tom heads home.

That’s when things take a turn.

The knee doesn’t heal as well as it should. An infection sets in, and Tom winds up back in the hospital for another knee surgery. Tom is not as excited by this point. As the nurses and doctors try to figure out what happened, it becomes evident that Tom wasn’t adhering to his recovery instructions.

So here’s the thing: it isn’t that Tom didn’t want to observe those recovery guidelines. The issue is that he didn’t hear them. Tom can feel a little better in the fact that he’s not by himself: there’s a strong link between hospital visits and hearing loss.

Hearing loss can result in more hospital visits

By now, you’re likely acquainted with the typical drawbacks of hearing loss: you tend to socially separate yourself, causing you to become more removed from friends and loved ones, and you increase your danger of developing cognitive decline. But there can be added, less obvious drawbacks to hearing loss, too, some of which we’re just starting to truly understand.

One of those relationships that’s becoming more evident is that hearing loss can lead to an increase in emergency room visits. One study discovered that people with hearing loss have a 17% greater risk of needing a visit to the emergency room and a 44% increased chance of readmission later on.

What’s the link?

This could be the situation for a couple of reasons.

  • Your situational awareness can be affected negatively by neglected hearing loss. 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 kinds of injuries can, obviously, land you in the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).
  • Your likelihood of readmission substantially increases once you’re in the hospital. Readmission occurs when you are discharged from the hospital, spend some time at home, and then need to go back to the hospital. Complications sometimes happen that result in this readmission. Readmission can also happen because the original issue wasn’t properly managed or even from a new issue.

Increased risk of readmission

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

  • When your nurses and doctors give you guidelines you may not hear them very well because of your untreated hearing loss. For example, if you can’t hear what your physical therapist is telling you to do, you won’t be able to do your physical therapy treatment as well as you otherwise might. Whether you’re still in the hospital or at home, your recovery duration could be greatly increased.
  • Taking care of yourself after you get home will be nearly impossible if you don’t hear the instructions. If you’re unable to hear the instructions (and particularly if you’re not aware that you aren’t hearing your instructions properly), you’re more likely to reinjure yourself.

Let’s say, for instance, 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 severe infection.

Keeping track of your hearing aids

At first glance, the answer here may seem simple: just use your hearing aids! Regrettably, hearing loss usually develops very slowly, and those with hearing loss may not always realize they are experiencing symptoms. The solution here is to schedule a hearing test with us.

Even if you do have a pair of hearing aids (and you should), there’s another situation: you might lose them. Hospital visits are frequently quite chaotic. Which means there’s a lot of potential to lose your hearing aids. Knowing how to deal with hearing aids during a hospital stay can help you remain involved in your care.

Tips for getting prepared for a hospital stay when you have hearing loss

If you’re dealing with hearing loss and you’re going in for a hospital stay, many of the headaches and discomfort can be avoided by knowing how to get yourself ready. Here are a few basic things you can do:

  • Make sure that the hospital staff is aware of your hearing loss. Miscommunication will be less likely if they are well notified about your situation.
  • Be aware of your battery power. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if necessary.
  • Wear your hearing aids whenever you can, and when you aren’t wearing them, make sure to keep them in the case.
  • Take your case with you. It’s really important to use a case for your hearing aids. This will make them much 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.

The key here is to communicate with the hospital at every stage. Be certain that you’re telling your nurses and doctors about your hearing loss.

Hearing is a health concern

It’s important to realize that your hearing health and your overall health are closely related. After all your general health can be significantly impacted by your hearing. In many ways, hearing loss is no different than a broken arm, in that each of these health problems calls for prompt treatment in order to avoid possible complications.

You don’t have to be like Tom. The next time you find yourself in the hospital, make certain your hearing aids are with you.

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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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