Hearing Loss Can Result in 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 brand new knee and he’s really jazzed! Look, as you age, the types of things you get excited about change. He will be capable of moving around more freely and will have less pain with his new knee. So the operation is a success and Tom goes home.

But that’s not the end of it.

The knee doesn’t heal properly. An infection sets in, and Tom ends up back in the hospital for another knee surgery. Tom is not as psyched by this point. As the nurses and doctors attempt to figure out what took place, it becomes evident that Tom wasn’t adhering to his recovery guidelines.

So here’s the thing: it isn’t that Tom didn’t want to follow those recovery instructions. The problem is that he never heard them. It just so happens that there is a solid connection between hospital visits and hearing loss, so Tom isn’t by himself.

More hospital visits can be the outcome of hearing loss

The common drawbacks of hearing loss are something that most individuals are already familiar with: you tend to socially separate yourself, causing you to become more distant from friends and loved ones, and you increase your danger of developing cognitive decline. But there can be added, less apparent drawbacks to hearing loss, too, some of which we’re just starting to really understand.

Increased emergency room trips is one of those relationships that’s becoming more apparent. One study revealed that people with hearing loss have a 17% higher risk of requiring a trip to the emergency room and a 44% increased risk of readmission later on.

Is there a link?

This could be the case for a couple of reasons.

  • 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. These sorts of injuries can, of course, land you in the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).
  • Your chance of readmission substantially increases once you’re in the hospital. Readmission happens when you are discharged from the hospital, spend some time at home, and then have to go back to the hospital. Complications sometimes happen that result in this readmission. Readmission can also occur because the initial issue wasn’t correctly managed or even from a new problem.

Risk of readmission is increased

Why is readmission more likely for individuals who have neglected hearing loss? This happens for a couple of reasons:

  • If you have neglected hearing loss, you might not be able to hear the instructions that your nurses and doctors give you. For instance, if you can’t understand what your physical therapist is telling you to do, you won’t be able to do your physical therapy treatment as well as you otherwise might. Whether you’re still in the hospital or at home, your recovery period could be greatly increased.
  • If you can’t hear your recovery directions, you won’t know how to take care of yourself as you continue recovering 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.

For example, 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 severe infection.

Keeping track of your hearing aids

The solution may seem straight-forward at first glance: you just need to wear your hearing aids! Sadly, in the early phases of hearing loss, it often goes undetected because of how gradually it advances. Coming in to see us for a hearing exam is the solution here.

Even after you’ve taken the steps and invested in a pair of hearing aids, there’s still the possibility of losing them. It’s often a chaotic scene when you have to go in for a hospital stay. Which means there’s lots of potential of losing your hearing aids. You will be better able to remain involved in your care when you’re in the hospital if you know how to handle your hearing aid.

Tips for taking your hearing aids with you during a hospital stay

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 simple things you can do:

  • In a hospital setting, you should always advocate for yourself and ask your family to advocate for you.
  • Communicate to hospital staff about your hearing loss. The more informed you are about your hearing loss, the less chance there is for a miscommunication to happen.
  • Whenever you can, use your hearing aids, and put them in their case when you’re not using them.
  • Don’t forget to bring your case. It’s really important to have a case for your hearing aids. This will make them much easier to keep track of.
  • Keep your eye on your battery’s charge. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if necessary.

Communication with the hospital at every stage is key here. Your doctors and nurses need to be made aware of your hearing loss.

Hearing loss can cause health problems

It’s important to understand that your hearing health and your overall health are closely linked. After all your overall health can be significantly impacted by your hearing. Hearing loss is like any other health problem in that it needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

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.