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! Look, as you get older, the types of things you look forward to change. He will be able to move moving around more freely and will experience less pain with this knee replacement. So the operation is a success and Tom goes home.

That’s when things go wrong.

Regrettably, the healing process doesn’t go as it should. An infection sets in, and Tom winds up back in the hospital for another knee surgery. Tom is not as psyched by this point. As the doctors and nurses try to determine what happened, it becomes evident that Tom wasn’t adhering to his recovery guidelines.

So here’s the thing: it’s not that Tom didn’t want to follow those recovery guidelines. Tom actually never even heard the instructions. Tom can take some comfort in the fact that he isn’t alone: there’s a strong connection between hospital visits and hearing loss.

Hearing loss can result in more hospital visits

The common disadvantages of hearing loss are something that most people are already familiar with: you have the tendency to socially isolate yourself, causing you to become more distant from friends and family, and you raise your risk of developing cognitive decline. But we’re finally starting to comprehend some of the less apparent drawbacks to hearing loss.

One of those relationships that’s becoming more evident is that hearing loss can lead to an increase in emergency room trips. One study found that individuals with hearing loss have a 17% higher risk of needing a trip to the emergency room and a 44% higher chance of readmission later on.

What’s the connection?

There are a couple of reasons why this might be.

  • Your situational awareness can be impacted negatively by neglected hearing loss. Anything from a stubbed toe to a car accident will be more likely to take place if you aren’t aware of your surroundings. These kinds of injuries can, of course, land you in the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).
  • Once you’re in the hospital, your potential of readmission increases significantly. Readmission happens when you are released from the hospital, spend some time at home, and then need to go back to the hospital. Sometimes this takes place because a complication occurs. In other instances, readmission may result from a new problem, or because the original problem wasn’t addressed correctly.

Increased chances of readmission

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

  • When your nurses and doctors give you guidelines you may not hear them very well because of your untreated hearing loss. For example, if you can’t hear 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 would. This can result in a longer recovery time while you’re in the hospital and also a longer recovery once you’re out.
  • Caring for yourself after you get home will be practically impossible if you don’t hear the instructions. You have a higher 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 undergone knee replacement surgery. Maybe 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 severe infection.

Keeping track of your hearing aids

The answer may seem simple at first glimpse: just wear your hearing aids! Regrettably, hearing loss usually develops very slowly, and those with hearing loss might not always realize they are experiencing symptoms. The solution here is to schedule a hearing test with us.

Even if you do have a pair of hearing aids (and you should), there’s another situation: you might lose them. It’s frequently a chaotic scene when you need to go in for a hospital stay. Which means there’s lots of potential of losing your hearing aids. Knowing how to deal with hearing aids during a hospital stay can help you remain engaged in your care.

Tips for bringing 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 a lot 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 loved ones to advocate for you.
  • Bring your case with you. It’s very 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.
  • Communicate to hospital staff about your hearing loss. Miscommunication will be less likely if they are well notified about your situation.
  • Wear your hearing aids when you can, and when you aren’t wearing them, make sure to keep them in the case.

Communication with the hospital at every stage is the trick here. Your doctors and nurses need to be told about your hearing loss.

Hearing loss can cause health problems

It’s important to understand that your hearing health and your general health are closely linked. After all, your hearing can have a substantial affect on your general health. Hearing loss is like any other health problem in that it needs to be addressed right away.

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

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.