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 thrilled, he’s getting a brand new knee! Hey, the things you get excited about change as you age. He will be capable of moving around more freely and will experience less pain with his new knee. So the operation is successful 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 require another surgery. It’s becoming less exciting for Tom by the minute. The nurses and doctors have come to the realization that Tom wasn’t following their advice and guidelines for recovery.

So here’s the thing: it isn’t that Tom didn’t want to follow those recovery guidelines. The problem is that he didn’t hear them. It turns out that there is a strong link between hospital visits and hearing loss, so Tom isn’t by himself.

Hearing loss can contribute to more hospital visits

At this point, you’re most likely familiar with the common drawbacks of hearing loss: you become more withdrawn from your loved ones, you raise your risk of social solitude, and have an increased risk of developing dementia. But there can be additional, less apparent drawbacks to hearing loss, too, some of which we’re just starting to actually understand.

Increased emergency room trips is one of those relationships that’s becoming more evident. One study found that people with hearing loss have a 17% higher danger of needing a trip to the emergency room and a 44% increased chance of readmission later.

Is there a connection?

There are a couple of reasons why this might be.

  • Your likelihood of readmission considerably increases once you’re in the hospital. Readmission happens when you’re discharged from the hospital, spend some time at home, and then need to go back to the hospital. Complications sometimes occur that lead to this readmission. In other cases, readmission may be the outcome of a new problem, or because the initial issue wasn’t properly addressed.
  • 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 occur if you aren’t aware of your surroundings. Obviously, you could wind up in the hospital because of this.

Risk of readmission is increased

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

  • When your doctors and nurses give you instructions you may not hear them very well because of your untreated hearing loss. You won’t be able to effectively do your physical therapy, for example, if you fail to hear the instructions from your physical therapist. This can lead to a longer recovery duration while you’re in the hospital as well as a longer recovery once you’re out.
  • Taking care of yourself after you get home will be nearly impossible if you don’t hear the guidelines. If you can’t 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.

Let’s say, for instance, you’ve recently had surgery to replace your knee. Maybe you’re not supposed to take a shower for three weeks but you thought your doctor said three days. Now your wound is in danger of developing a serious infection (one that could land you back at the hospital).

Keeping track of your hearing aids

At first glimpse, the solution here may seem basic: you just need to wear your hearing aids! Sadly, in the early stages of hearing loss, it frequently goes undetected because of how slowly it advances. The solution here is to make an appointment for a hearing exam with us.

Even if you do have a pair of hearing aids (and you should), there’s another complication: you could lose them. Hospital trips are often rather chaotic. Which means there’s lots 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 taking your hearing aids with you during a hospital stay

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

  • Bring your case with you. It’s very important to use a case for your hearing aids. This will make them much easier to keep track of.
  • Communicate to hospital staff about your hearing loss. Miscommunication will be less likely if they are well notified about your situation.
  • Urge your loved ones to advocate for you. You should always be advocating for yourself in a hospital setting.
  • Be mindful of your battery power. Bring spares if you need them and charge your hearing aids when you can.
  • Whenever you can, use your hearing aids, and keep them in their case when you aren’t using them.

The trick here is to communicate with the hospital at every phase. Be sure you’re telling your nurses and physicians about your hearing loss.

Hearing is a health concern

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 issue in that it needs to be addressed right away.

The power to avoid Tom’s fate is in your hands. Keep your hearing aids close the next time you need 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.