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 excited, he’s getting a brand new knee! Look, as you grow older, the kinds of things you look forward to change. His knee replacement means he will experience less pain and be able to get around a lot better. So the operation is successful and Tom goes home.

That’s when things take a turn.

The knee doesn’t heal as well as it should. An infection sets in, and Tom ends up back in the hospital for another knee surgery. Tom is not as psyched by this point. The doctors and nurses have come to the conclusion that Tom wasn’t following their advice and guidelines for recovery.

Tom didn’t purposely deviate from the guidelines. Tom actually never even heard the instructions. Tom can feel a little better in the fact that he’s not alone: there’s a solid link between hospital visits and hearing loss.

Hearing loss can result in more hospital visits

By now, you’re likely familiar with the common drawbacks of hearing loss: you grow more withdrawn from your loved ones, you increase your risk of social separation, and have an increased risk of developing dementia. But we’re finally beginning to understand some of the less obvious disadvantages to hearing loss.

Increased emergency room trips is one of those relationships that’s becoming more apparent. Individuals who struggle with 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, according to one study.

What’s the link?

This might be the situation for a couple of reasons.

  • Once you’re in the hospital, your possibility of readmission increases considerably. Readmission happens when you are 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 issue, or because the original problem wasn’t addressed correctly.
  • Your situational awareness can be affected negatively by neglected hearing loss. If you aren’t aware of your surroundings, you might be more likely to have a car accident or stub your toe. Obviously, you could end up in the hospital because of this.

Risk of readmission is increased

So why are those with neglected hearing loss more likely to be readmitted to the hospital? This occurs for a couple of reasons:

  • When your doctors and nurses give you guidelines you might not hear them very well because of your neglected 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 duration could be greatly increased.
  • Caring for yourself after you get home will be practically impossible if you don’t hear the guidelines. 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 say you’ve recently had knee replacement surgery. 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

At first glance, the answer here might seem basic: just wear your hearing aids! Sadly, in the early phases 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 after you’ve taken the measures and invested in a set of hearing aids, there’s still the possibility of losing them. Hospital visits are usually quite chaotic. So the possibility of losing your hearing aid is absolutely present. Knowing how to deal with hearing aids during a hospital stay can help you remain involved in your care.

Tips for getting prepared for a hospital visit when you have hearing loss

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

  • In a hospital setting, always advocate for yourself and ask your loved ones to advocate for you.
  • Be mindful of your battery power. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if needed.
  • Whenever you can, wear your hearing aids, and put 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.
  • Bring your case with you. It’s really important to have a case for your hearing aids. They will be able to be better taken care of that way.

The trick here is to communicate with the hospital at every phase. Make 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 totally different things. After all your general health can be substantially impacted by your hearing. 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 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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