When You’re Hospitalized, Hearing Loss Can Cause Complications

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! Look, as you get older, the kinds of things you get excited about change. His knee replacement means he will suffer from less pain and be able to get around a lot better. So Tom is admitted, the operation is a success, and Tom heads home!

That’s when things go wrong.

Sadly, the healing process doesn’t go very well. Tom finds himself back in the hospital with an infection and will need another surgery. Tom is not as excited by this point. As the nurses and doctors try to determine what took place, it becomes clear that Tom wasn’t following his recovery guidelines.

Tom didn’t purposely ignore the instructions. The issue is that he never heard them. It just so happens that there is a solid connection between hospital visits and hearing loss, so Tom isn’t alone.

Hearing loss can contribute to more hospital visits

By now, you’re probably acquainted with the common drawbacks of hearing loss: you have the tendency to socially isolate yourself, causing you to become more removed from friends and loved ones, and you increase your risk of developing cognitive decline. But there can be additional, less apparent drawbacks to hearing loss, too, some of which we’re just beginning to really understand.

Increased emergency room visits is one of those relationships that’s becoming more evident. People who suffer from neglected hearing loss have a higher risk of taking a trip to the emergency room by 17% and will be 44% more likely to have to be readmitted later on, as reported by one study.

Is there a connection?

There are a couple of reasons why this might be.

  • Your situational awareness can be impacted negatively by neglected hearing loss. Anything from a stubbed toe to a car accident will be more likely to happen if you aren’t aware of what’s around you. These types of injuries can, obviously, send you to the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).
  • Your potential of readmission considerably 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 happens. Sometimes this takes place because a complication occurs. In other cases, readmission may be the outcome of a new problem, or because the original problem wasn’t properly addressed.

Risk of readmission increases

Why is readmission more likely for people who have untreated hearing loss? There are a couple of reasons for this:

  • If you have neglected hearing loss, you might 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 perform your physical therapy treatment as well as you otherwise might. This can lead to a longer recovery time while you’re in the hospital and also a longer recovery once you’re out.
  • If you’re unable to hear your recovery directions, you won’t know how to take care of 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 instance, 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. And you might find yourself back in the hospital with a severe infection.

Keeping track of your hearing aids

At first glimpse, the solution here may seem simple: just use your hearing aids! Sadly, in the early stages of hearing loss, it often goes unnoticed because of how gradually it develops. Coming in to see us for a hearing exam is the solution here.

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 very chaotic. So the possibility of losing your hearing aid is definitely present. You will be better able to stay involved in your care when you’re in the hospital if you know how to deal with your hearing aid.

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

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

  • Communicate to hospital staff about your hearing loss. The more informed you are about your hearing loss, the less likelihood there is for a miscommunication to happen.
  • Take your case with you. It’s really important to have a case for your hearing aids. This will make them a lot easier to keep track of.
  • Be mindful of your battery power. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if necessary.
  • Urge your loved ones to advocate for you. You should always be advocating on your own behalf in a hospital setting.
  • Wear your hearing aids whenever you can, and put them in their case when you aren’t using them.

Communication with the hospital at every stage is the trick here. Your doctors and nurses should be told about your hearing loss.

Hearing loss can cause health problems

It’s important to understand that your hearing health and your overall health are closely related. After all your overall health can be significantly impacted by your hearing. Hearing loss is like any other health issue in that it needs to be treated as soon as possible.

The power to avoid Tom’s fate is in your hands. The next time you find yourself in the hospital, be certain that your hearing aids are nearby.

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 hearing aid consultation, call today to schedule an appointment.