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

That’s when things go wrong.

The knee doesn’t heal properly. Tom ends up back in the hospital with an infection and will need another surgery. Tom isn’t as psyched by this point. As the nurses and doctors attempt to determine what happened, it becomes clear that Tom wasn’t following his recovery instructions.

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

More hospital visits can be the result of hearing loss

At this point, you’re likely acquainted with the typical drawbacks of hearing loss: you tend to socially separate yourself, causing you to become more distant from friends and family, and you increase your danger of developing dementia. But we’re finally beginning to comprehend some of the less apparent disadvantages to hearing loss.

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

What’s the connection?

This could be the case for a couple of reasons.

  • Neglected hearing loss can negatively impact your situational awareness. Anything from a stubbed toe to a car accident will be more likely to happen if you aren’t aware of your surroundings. Obviously, you could end up in the hospital due to this.
  • Your potential of readmission significantly increases once you’re in the hospital. Readmission occurs when you’re discharged from the hospital, spend some time at home, and then need to go back to the hospital. Complications sometimes happen that lead to this readmission. In other instances, readmission may be the outcome of a new issue, or because the initial issue wasn’t addressed correctly.

Risk of readmission increases

Why is readmission more likely for individuals who have untreated hearing loss? There are a couple of reasons for this:

  • When your doctors and nurses give you guidelines you may not hear them very well because of your untreated hearing loss. You won’t be able to properly do your physical therapy, for example, if you fail to hear the instructions from your physical therapist. Whether you’re still in the hospital or at home, your recovery period could be greatly increased.
  • Caring for yourself after you get home will be practically impossible if you don’t hear the guidelines. You have a higher chance of reinjuring yourself if you’re not even aware that you didn’t hear the instructions.

Let’s say, for example, you’ve recently undergone surgery to replace your knee. Your surgeon might tell you not to shower for the next 3 weeks, but you hear 3 days instead. Now your wound is in danger of developing a serious infection (one that could put you back at the hospital).

Keeping track of your hearing aids

The answer might seem simple at first glimpse: just use your hearing aids! Sadly, in the early stages of hearing loss, it often goes undetected because of how gradually it develops. 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 could lose them. Hospital trips are often really chaotic. Which means there’s lots of potential to lose your hearing aids. Knowing how to deal with hearing aids during a hospital stay can help you remain involved in your care.

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

Knowing how to prepare for a hospital stay when you’re dealing with hearing loss can avert lots of headaches (and other discomfort) in the future. Here are a few basic things you can do:

  • Keep your eye on your battery’s charge. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if necessary.
  • Don’t forget your case. Having a case for your hearing aid is very important. They will be able to be better taken care of that way.
  • Wear your hearing aids whenever you can, and keep them in their case when you’re not using them.
  • Communicate to hospital staff about your hearing loss. Miscommunication will be less likely if they are well informed about your situation.
  • Encourage your loved ones to advocate on your behalf. You should always be advocating on your own behalf in a hospital setting.

Communication with the hospital at every phase is the trick here. Be sure you’re telling your nurses and doctors about your hearing loss.

Hearing is a health concern

It’s important to understand that your hearing health and your overall health are closely linked. After all, your hearing can have a significant impact on your overall health. Hearing loss is like any other health problem in that it needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

You don’t have to be like Tom. The next time you find yourself in the hospital, be sure your hearing aids are with you.

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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