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 new knee and he’s really jazzed! Look, as you get older, the kinds of things you get excited about change. His knee replacement means he will experience less pain and be able to get around a lot better. So Tom goes in, the operation is a success, and Tom heads home!

That’s when things go wrong.

The knee doesn’t heal as well as it should. Tom ends up back in the hospital with an infection and will need another surgery. It’s getting less thrilling for Tom by the minute. The nurses and doctors have come to the conclusion that Tom wasn’t adhering to their advice and instructions for recovery.

Tom didn’t purposely deviate from the guidelines. The problem is that he didn’t hear them. Tom can take some comfort in the fact that he isn’t alone: there’s a solid link between hearing loss and hospital visits.

More hospital visits can be the outcome of hearing loss

By now, you’re most likely familiar with the common drawbacks of hearing loss: you become more withdrawn from your loved ones, you raise your risk of social separation, and have an increased risk of developing dementia.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 really understand.

One of those relationships that’s becoming more apparent is that hearing loss can lead to an increase in emergency room trips. People who suffer from neglected hearing loss have a greater 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.

Is there a connection?

This might be the situation for a couple of reasons.

  • Once you’re in the hospital, your possibility of readmission increases significantly. Readmission occurs when you are released from the hospital, spend some time at home, and then need to go back to the hospital. Complications sometimes happen that result in this readmission. In other instances, readmission may result from a new problem, or because the initial issue wasn’t addressed correctly.
  • Untreated hearing loss can negatively impact your situational awareness. Anything from a stubbed toe to a car accident will be more likely to take place if you’re not aware of your surroundings. Of course, you could end up in the hospital because of this.

Risk of readmission increases

Why is readmission more likely for people who have untreated hearing loss? This occurs for a couple of reasons:

  • 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 effectively do your physical therapy, for example, if you fail to hear the guidelines from your physical therapist. Whether you’re still in the hospital or at home, your recovery time could be greatly increased.
  • If you can’t hear your recovery directions, you won’t know how to take care of yourself as you recover at home. If you can’t hear the instructions (and especially if you don’t know you aren’t hearing your instructions properly), you’re more likely to reinjure yourself.

Let’s say, for example, you’ve recently undergone surgery to replace your knee. Perhaps you’re not supposed to take a 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 glimpse, the answer here may seem basic: just use your hearing aids! Regrettably, hearing loss often progresses very gradually, and individuals with hearing loss might not always realize they are feeling its effects. The solution here is to make an appointment for a hearing exam with us.

Even after you’ve taken the steps and invested in a set of hearing aids, there’s still the possibility of losing them. Hospital trips are usually really chaotic. Which means there’s a lot of potential to lose your hearing aids. Knowing how to handle hearing aids during a hospital stay can help you remain involved 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, a lot of the headaches and discomfort can be prevented by knowing how to prepare. There are some easy things you can do:

  • Communicate to hospital staff about your hearing loss. The more informed you are about your hearing loss, the less likelihood there is for a miscommunication to happen.
  • Bring your case with you. Using a case for your hearing aid is very important. They will be able to be better cared for that way.
  • Whenever you can, wear your hearing aids, and put them in their case when you’re not using them.
  • In a hospital setting, you should always advocate for yourself and ask your loved ones to advocate for you.
  • Be mindful of your battery power. Bring spares if you need them and charge your hearing aids when you can.

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 loss can cause health issues

So perhaps it’s time to stop thinking of hearing health and your general wellness as two totally different things. After all, your hearing can have a considerable impact on your overall health. Hearing loss is like any other health issue in that it needs to be treated right away.

The ability 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.

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    Dr. Laura Padham, Audiologist

    Ocean Gate, NJ

    143 W Barnegat Avenue
    Ocean Gate, NJ 08740

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