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. He will be capable of moving around more freely and will experience less pain with this knee replacement. So Tom is admitted, the operation is successful, and Tom heads home!

That’s when things take a turn.

The knee doesn’t heal as well as it should. Tom finds himself back in the hospital with an infection and will need another surgery. It’s becoming less exciting for Tom by the minute. As the doctors and nurses try to figure out what occurred, it becomes evident that Tom wasn’t following his recovery guidelines.

Tom didn’t purposely ignore the instructions. The problem is that he didn’t hear them. It just so happens that there is a solid connection between hospital visits and hearing loss, so Tom isn’t alone.

More hospital visits can be the consequence of hearing loss

By now, you’re most likely acquainted with the common drawbacks of hearing loss: you grow more distant from your loved ones, you raise your risk of social solitude, and have an increased danger of getting 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 evident is that hearing loss can lead to an increase in emergency room trips. One study discovered that individuals with hearing loss have a 17% higher danger of requiring a trip to the emergency room and a 44% higher risk of readmission later on.

Is there a link?

There are a couple of reasons why this could be.

  • Your situational awareness can be affected negatively by untreated hearing loss. If you aren’t aware of your surroundings, you might be more likely to get into a car accident or stub your toe. Of course, you could end up in the hospital because of this.
  • Your possibility of readmission significantly increases once you’re in the hospital. Readmission occurs 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 problem wasn’t properly managed or even from a new issue.

Increased risk of readmission

So why are people with neglected hearing loss more likely to be readmitted to the hospital? There are a couple of reasons for this:

  • When your doctors and nurses give you guidelines you might not hear them very well because of your untreated hearing loss. For example, if you can’t understand what your physical therapist is telling you to do, you will be unable to do your physical therapy treatment as well as you otherwise would. 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 care for yourself as you recover at home. You have a higher likelihood of reinjuring yourself if you’re not even aware that you didn’t hear the instructions.

For example, let’s say you’ve recently had knee replacement surgery. Your surgeon might tell you not to shower for the next 3 weeks, but you hear 3 days instead. Now your wound is at risk of getting a severe infection (one that could land you back at the hospital).

Keeping track of your hearing aids

At first glimpse, the answer here might seem basic: just wear your hearing aids! Regrettably, hearing loss often develops very slowly, and those with hearing loss may not always recognize 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. It’s often a chaotic scene when you need to go in for a hospital stay. So the probability of losing your hearing aid is definitely present. Knowing how to handle hearing aids during a hospital stay can help you remain engaged in your care.

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

If you’re dealing with 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 get yourself ready. There are some easy things you can do:

  • Don’t forget to bring your case. It’s really important to have a case for your hearing aids. They will be able to be better cared for that way.
  • Encourage your loved ones to advocate on your behalf. You should always be advocating on your own behalf in a hospital setting.
  • Wear your hearing aids when you can, and when you aren’t using them, make certain to keep them in the case.
  • Communicate to hospital staff about your hearing loss. Miscommunication will be less likely if they are well notified about your situation.
  • Keep your eye on your battery’s charge. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if necessary.

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

Hearing is a health concern

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. In a lot of ways, hearing loss is the same as a broken arm, in that each of these health issues calls for prompt treatment in order to prevent possible complications.

The power to avoid Tom’s fate is in your hands. Keep your hearing aids close the next time you have to go in for a hospital stay.

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