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 getting a new knee and he’s super pumped! Hey, the things you look forward to change as you get older. He will be capable of moving around more freely and will experience less pain with his new knee. So the surgery is successful and Tom goes home.

That’s when things go wrong.

Regrettably, the healing process doesn’t go very well. An infection takes hold, and Tom ends up back in the hospital for another knee surgery. Tom is not as psyched by this point. The nurses and doctors have come to the realization that Tom wasn’t adhering to their advice and guidelines for recovery.

So here’s the thing: it isn’t that Tom didn’t want to follow those recovery instructions. The issue is that he didn’t hear them. Tom can feel a little better in the fact that he isn’t alone: there’s a solid connection between hearing loss and hospital visits.

Hearing loss can contribute to more hospital visits

At this point, you’re likely familiar with the typical disadvantages of hearing loss: you become more distant from your loved ones, you increase your risk of social solitude, and have an increased danger of developing cognitive decline. But there can be additional, less apparent disadvantages to hearing loss, too, some of which we’re just starting to truly understand.

One of those relationships that’s becoming more apparent is that hearing loss can result in 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, as reported by one study.

What’s the connection?

This could be the situation for a couple of reasons.

  • Once you’re in the hospital, your likelihood of readmission goes up significantly. But when you’re released and go home for a time but then have to go back to the hospital, readmission occurs. Sometimes this happens because a complication occurs. In other cases, readmission may result from a new issue, or because the initial problem wasn’t addressed correctly.
  • Your situational awareness can be affected negatively by untreated hearing loss. If you’re not aware of your surroundings, you may be more likely to have a car accident or stub your toe. Obviously, you could wind up in the hospital due to this.

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:

  • When your nurses and doctors give you instructions you may not hear them very well because of your untreated hearing loss. For instance, if you can’t hear what your physical therapist is telling you to do, you will be unable to do your physical therapy treatment as well as you otherwise might. Whether you’re still in the hospital or at home, your recovery time could be greatly increased.
  • Taking care of yourself after you get home will be practically impossible if you don’t hear the guidelines. If you can’t hear the instructions (and particularly 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 had surgery to replace your knee. Perhaps you’re not supposed to shower for three weeks but you thought your doctor said three days. And you could find yourself back in the hospital with a serious infection.

Keeping track of your hearing aids

The answer may seem simple at first glance: you just need to use your hearing aids! Unfortunately, hearing loss often advances very slowly, and individuals with hearing loss may not always realize they are experiencing symptoms. 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 complication: you might lose them. Hospital trips are usually quite chaotic. So the possibility of losing your hearing aid is definitely present. Knowing how to deal with hearing aids during a hospital stay can help you remain involved in your care.

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 prevent a lot of headaches (and other discomfort) in the future. Here are a few basic things you can do:

  • Wear your hearing aids when you can, and when you aren’t using them, make certain to keep them in the case.
  • Bring your case with you. Having a case for your hearing aid is very important. This will make them much easier to keep track of.
  • Urge your loved ones to advocate for you. You should always be advocating for yourself in a hospital setting.
  • Be aware 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. The more informed you are about your hearing loss, the less likelihood there is for a miscommunication to occur.

The trick here is to communicate with the hospital at every phase. Your doctors and nurses need to be made aware of your hearing loss.

Hearing is a health issue

So maybe it’s time to stop thinking of hearing health and your general wellness as two completely different things. After all, your hearing can have a significant affect on your general health. Hearing loss is like any other health issue in that it needs to be treated as soon as possible.

You don’t need to be like Tom. 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.


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