When You’re Hospitalized, Hearing Loss Can Lead to Complications

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 super pumped! Hey, the things you look forward to change as you get older. He will be able to move moving around more freely and will experience less pain with his new knee. So Tom goes in, the operation is successful, and Tom heads home!

That’s when things go wrong.

Sadly, the healing process doesn’t go as it should. Tom finds himself back in the hospital with an infection and will require another surgery. Tom isn’t as psyched by this point. As the doctors and nurses try to determine what took place, 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 observe those recovery guidelines. The issue is that he didn’t hear them. It turns out that there is a strong connection between hospital visits and hearing loss, so Tom isn’t alone.

More hospital visits can be the consequence of hearing loss

The typical disadvantages of hearing loss are something that most individuals are already familiar with: you have the tendency to socially isolate yourself, causing you to become more removed from friends and loved ones, and you raise your danger of developing cognitive decline. But we’re finally beginning to comprehend some of the less apparent drawbacks to hearing loss.

Increased emergency room trips is one of those relationships that’s becoming more evident. One study discovered that individuals with hearing loss have a 17% greater risk of needing a visit to the emergency room and a 44% higher chance of readmission later.

What’s the link?

This could be the situation for a couple of reasons.

  • Untreated hearing loss can negatively impact your situational awareness. If you’re not aware of your surroundings, you might be more likely to have a car accident or stub your toe. These kinds of injuries can, obviously, land you in the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).
  • Once you’re in the hospital, your chance of readmission increases significantly. But when you’re discharged and go home for a time but then need to go back to the hospital, readmission happens. Complications sometimes occur that lead to this readmission. In other instances, readmission may result from a new problem, or because the original problem wasn’t addressed correctly.

Risk of readmission is increased

Why is readmission more likely for people who have untreated hearing loss? There are a couple of reasons for this:

  • When your nurses and doctors give you instructions you may not hear them very well because of your neglected hearing loss. You won’t be able to effectively do your physical therapy, for instance, if you fail to hear the guidelines from your physical therapist. This can lead to a longer recovery duration while you’re in the hospital and also a longer recovery once you’re discharged.
  • If you’re unable to hear your recovery directions, you won’t know how to care for yourself as you continue recovering at home. If you can’t hear the instructions (and particularly if you don’t know you aren’t hearing your instructions properly), you’re more likely to reinjure yourself.

Let’s say, for instance, you’ve recently had surgery to replace your knee. Maybe you’re not supposed to take a shower for three weeks but you thought your doctor said three days. Now your wound is at risk of developing a severe infection (one that could land you back at the hospital).

Keeping track of your hearing aids

The answer may seem straight-forward at first glimpse: just use your hearing aids! Sadly, in the early stages of hearing loss, it often goes undetected because of how gradually it advances. Coming in to see us for a hearing test is the solution here.

Even after you’ve taken the steps and invested in a pair of hearing aids, there’s still the chance you may lose them. It’s often a chaotic scene when you need to go in for a hospital stay. So the possibility of losing your hearing aid is absolutely present. You will be better able to remain engaged in your care when you’re in the hospital if you know how to deal with your hearing aid.

Tips for preparing for a hospital visit when you have hearing loss

If you’re dealing with hearing loss and you’re going in for a hospital stay, many of the headaches and discomfort can be avoided by knowing how to get yourself ready. There are some easy things you can do:

  • Be aware of your battery power. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if needed.
  • 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.
  • Communicate to hospital staff about your hearing loss. Miscommunication will be less likely if they are well informed about your situation.
  • Whenever you can, wear your hearing aids, and when you aren’t wearing them, make certain to keep them in the case.
  • Encourage your loved ones to advocate for you. You should always be advocating on your own behalf in a hospital setting.

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

Hearing is a health concern

It’s important to recognize that your hearing health and your general health are closely related. After all, your hearing can have a significant affect on your overall 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, be certain that 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.