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 brand new knee and he’s super pumped! Hey, the things you look forward to change as you age. His knee replacement means he will experience less pain and be able to get out and about a lot better. So the operation is a success and Tom heads home.

But that isn’t the end of it.

Unfortunately, the healing process doesn’t go very well. Tom ends up back in the hospital with an infection and will require another surgery. It’s getting less thrilling for Tom by the minute. The doctors and nurses have come to the conclusion that Tom wasn’t adhering to their advice and instructions for recovery.

So here’s the thing: it’s not that Tom didn’t want to observe those recovery guidelines. Tom actually never even heard the instructions. Tom can feel a little better in the fact that he isn’t by himself: there’s a strong connection between hearing loss and hospital visits.

More hospital visits can be the outcome of hearing loss

At this point, you’re probably familiar with the common drawbacks of hearing loss: you tend to socially separate yourself, causing you to become more distant from friends and family, and you raise your danger of developing cognitive decline. But we’re finally beginning to understand some of the less apparent drawbacks to hearing loss.

One of those relationships that’s becoming more clear is that hearing loss can lead to an increase in emergency room visits. Individuals who suffer from 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, according to one study.

Is there a link?

This might be the case for a couple of reasons.

  • Neglected hearing loss can negatively affect your situational awareness. If you aren’t aware of your surroundings, you might be more likely to get into a car accident or stub your toe. Obviously, you could wind up in the hospital because of this.
  • Your likelihood of readmission considerably increases once you’re in the hospital. Readmission occurs when you’re released from the hospital, spend some time at home, and then need to go back to the hospital. Sometimes this takes place because a complication occurs. Readmission can also happen because the initial issue wasn’t properly managed or even from a new problem.

Increased chances of readmission

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

  • If you have untreated 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 won’t be able 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 as well as a longer recovery once you’re discharged.
  • If you’re unable to hear your recovery directions, you won’t know how to care for yourself as you recover at home. If you’re unable to hear the instructions (and especially 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 might 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 getting a severe infection (one that could put you back at the hospital).

Keeping track of your hearing aids

The answer might seem straight-forward at first glimpse: just wear your hearing aids! Sadly, in the early phases of hearing loss, it frequently goes undetected because of how slowly it progresses. The solution here is to make an appointment for a hearing exam with us.

Even if you do have a set of hearing aids (and you should), there’s another complication: you might lose them. Hospital visits are often very chaotic. So the probability of losing your hearing aid is absolutely present. You will be better able to remain engaged in your care when you’re in the hospital if you know how to handle your hearing aid.

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

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. There are some simple things you can do:

  • Be mindful of your battery power. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if necessary.
  • Make sure that the hospital staff is aware of your hearing loss. Miscommunication will be less likely if they are well informed about your situation.
  • In a hospital setting, you should always advocate for yourself and ask your loved ones to advocate for you.
  • Don’t forget to bring your case. Having a case for your hearing aid is very important. This will make them much easier to keep track of.
  • Whenever you can, use your hearing aids, and when you aren’t wearing them, make sure to keep them in the case.

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

Hearing is a health issue

It’s important to understand that your hearing health and your overall health are closely related. After all, your hearing can have a considerable affect on your general health. In many ways, hearing loss is the same as a broken arm, in that each of these health problems calls for prompt treatment in order to prevent possible complications.

The ability to avoid Tom’s fate is in your hands. 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.