Hearing Loss Can Lead to 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 brand new knee and he’s really jazzed! Look, as you get older, the types of things you look forward to change. His knee replacement means he will feel 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!

That’s when things take a turn.

Regrettably, the healing process doesn’t go very well. Tom finds himself back in the hospital with an infection and will require another surgery. Tom isn’t as psyched by this point. As the nurses and doctors try to determine what occurred, it becomes evident that Tom wasn’t following his recovery instructions.

So here’s the thing: it isn’t that Tom didn’t want to follow those recovery guidelines. Tom actually never even heard the instructions. Tom can take some comfort in the fact that he isn’t by himself: there’s a solid connection between hearing loss and hospital visits.

Hearing loss can contribute to more hospital visits

The typical disadvantages of hearing loss are something that most individuals are already acquainted with: you become more withdrawn from your loved ones, you raise your risk of social solitude, and have an increased danger of developing cognitive decline. But there can be additional, less obvious disadvantages to hearing loss, too, some of which we’re just starting to truly understand.

Increased emergency room trips is one of those relationships that’s becoming more clear. One study discovered that individuals with hearing loss have a 17% higher danger of needing a visit to the emergency room and a 44% increased chance of readmission later on.

Is there a connection?

This could be the case for a couple of reasons.

  • Your situational awareness can be affected negatively by neglected hearing loss. If you aren’t aware of your surroundings, you might be more likely to have a car accident or stub your toe. Of course, you could wind up in the hospital because of this.
  • 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 have to go back to the hospital, readmission occurs. Complications sometimes happen that lead to this readmission. Readmission can also occur because the original problem wasn’t correctly managed or even from a new problem.

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:

  • If you have neglected hearing loss, you might not be able to hear the instructions that your nurses and doctors give you. For example, if you can’t understand 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. 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 can’t 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.

For instance, let’s pretend you’ve recently undergone knee replacement surgery. Your surgeon may tell you not to take a shower for the next 3 weeks, but you hear 3 days instead. Now your wound is at risk of developing a severe infection (one that could land you back at the hospital).

Keeping track of your hearing aids

The answer may seem simple at first glance: just use your hearing aids! Sadly, in the early stages of hearing loss, it often goes unnoticed because of how slowly it progresses. The solution here is to schedule a hearing test with us.

Even after you’ve taken the steps and invested in a pair of hearing aids, there’s still the chance you may lose them. Hospital trips are frequently quite chaotic. Which means there’s a lot of potential of losing your hearing aids. Knowing how to deal with hearing aids during a hospital stay can help you remain engaged in your care.

Tips for preparing for a hospital visit when you have hearing loss

If you have hearing loss and you’re going in for a hospital stay, a lot of the headaches and discomfort can be avoided by knowing how to get yourself ready. There are some easy 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 chance there is for a miscommunication to occur.
  • Bring 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.
  • Encourage your loved ones to advocate for you. You should always be advocating for yourself in a hospital setting.
  • Keep your eye on your battery’s charge. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if necessary.
  • Whenever you can, wear your hearing aids, and when you aren’t using them, make certain to keep them in the case.

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

Hearing loss can cause health problems

So perhaps it’s time to stop thinking of hearing health and your general wellness as two completely different things. After all your general health can be substantially affected by your hearing. Hearing loss is like any other health problem 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 site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.