Hearing Loss Can Cause 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 super pumped! Look, as you get older, the types of things you get excited about change. His knee replacement means he will suffer from less pain and be able to get out and about a lot better. So Tom is admitted, the operation is a success, and Tom goes home!

But that isn’t the end of it.

Unfortunately, the healing process doesn’t go very well. 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 doctors and nurses attempt to determine what took place, it becomes clear that Tom wasn’t adhering to his recovery guidelines.

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

Hearing loss can lead to more hospital visits

At this point, you’re likely familiar with the common disadvantages of hearing loss: you have the tendency to socially isolate yourself, causing you to become more distant from friends and family, and you raise your risk of developing dementia. But there can be added, less obvious drawbacks to hearing loss, too, some of which we’re just starting to really understand.

Increased emergency room visits is one of those relationships that’s becoming more clear. One study revealed that people with hearing loss have a 17% greater danger of requiring a visit to the emergency room and a 44% increased risk of readmission later.

What’s the connection?

This could be the case for a couple of reasons.

  • Your possibility of readmission substantially increases once you’re in the hospital. Readmission occurs when you are released from the hospital, spend some time at home, and then have to go back to the hospital. Complications sometimes happen that lead to this readmission. In other cases, readmission may result from a new problem, or because the original issue wasn’t addressed correctly.
  • Neglected hearing loss can negatively impact 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 kinds of injuries can, of course, send you to the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).

Risk of readmission increases

So why are individuals with untreated hearing loss more likely to be readmitted to the hospital? This happens for a couple of reasons:

  • When your nurses and doctors give you instructions you might not hear them very well because of your neglected hearing loss. 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 would. This can result in a longer recovery duration while you’re in the hospital and also a longer recovery once you’re discharged.
  • If you can’t hear your recovery directions, you won’t know how to care for yourself as you continue recovering at home. You have an increased likelihood of reinjuring yourself if you don’t even know that you didn’t hear the instructions.

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. And you could find yourself back in the hospital with a serious infection.

Keeping track of your hearing aids

The solution may seem simple at first glimpse: you just need to use your hearing aids! Regrettably, hearing loss usually develops very gradually, and individuals with hearing loss may not always realize they are experiencing symptoms. Coming in to see us for a hearing test is the solution here.

Even after you’ve taken the measures and invested in a set of hearing aids, there’s still the possibility of losing 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 definitely present. 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

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

  • Urge your loved ones to advocate on your behalf. You should always be advocating for yourself in a hospital setting.
  • 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.
  • Use your hearing aids when you can, and put them in their case when you’re not wearing them.
  • Bring your case with you. It’s very important to have a case for your hearing aids. This will make them much easier to keep track of.
  • Keep your eye on your battery’s charge. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if needed.

The key here is to communicate with the hospital at every stage. Your doctors and nurses should be made aware of your hearing loss.

Hearing loss can cause health problems

It’s important to acknowledge that your hearing health and your general health are closely linked. After all your general health can be substantially affected by your hearing. Hearing loss is like any other health issue in that it needs to be treated right away.

You don’t need to be like Tom. Keep your hearing aids close the next time you have 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.