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! Look, as you get older, the types of things you get excited about change. His knee replacement means he will suffer from 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 require another surgery. Tom isn’t as psyched by this point. As the doctors and nurses try to figure out what took place, it becomes evident that Tom wasn’t following his recovery instructions.

Tom didn’t purposely deviate from the guidelines. Tom actually never even heard the instructions. It just so happens that there is a strong link between hospital visits and hearing loss, so Tom isn’t by himself.

More hospital visits can be the outcome of hearing loss

By now, you’re most likely familiar with the common disadvantages of hearing loss: you grow more distant from your loved ones, you increase your risk of social solitude, and have an increased risk of developing dementia. But we’re finally beginning to understand some of the less evident disadvantages to hearing loss.

Increased emergency room trips is one of those relationships that’s becoming more evident. People who struggle with neglected hearing loss have a greater risk of going to the emergency room by 17% and will be 44% more likely to need to be readmitted later on, according to one study.

What’s the link?

This could be the situation for a couple of reasons.

  • Your possibility of readmission substantially increases once you’re in the hospital. Readmission happens when you’re released from the hospital, spend some time at home, and then need to go back to the hospital. Complications sometimes occur that lead to this readmission. In other cases, readmission might result from a new problem, or because the initial issue wasn’t addressed correctly.
  • Untreated hearing loss can negatively affect your situational awareness. Anything from a stubbed toe to a car accident will be more likely to occur if you aren’t aware of your surroundings. Obviously, you could wind up in the hospital due to this.

Increased chances of readmission

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

  • If you have neglected hearing loss, you might not be able to hear the instructions that your nurses and doctors give you. You won’t be able to properly 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 period could be greatly increased.
  • If you can’t hear your recovery instructions, you won’t know how to take care of yourself as you recover at home. If you’re unable to 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 example, you’ve recently had surgery to replace your knee. Your surgeon may tell you not to take a shower for the next 3 weeks, but you hear 3 days instead. And you might find yourself back in the hospital with a severe infection.

Keeping track of your hearing aids

At first glimpse, the answer here may seem basic: just use your hearing aids! Unfortunately, hearing loss often develops very slowly, and those with hearing loss may not always recognize they are experiencing symptoms. The solution here is to make an appointment for a hearing exam with us.

Even if you do have a pair of hearing aids (and you should), there’s another situation: you might lose them. Hospital visits are often really chaotic. Which means there’s lots of potential of losing your hearing aids. You will be better able to stay engaged in your care when you’re in the hospital if you know how to handle your hearing aid.

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

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

  • Communicate to hospital staff about your hearing loss. The more educated you are about your hearing loss, the less likelihood there is for a miscommunication to happen.
  • Take your case with you. It’s very important to have a case for your hearing aids. They will be able to be better cared for that way.
  • Keep your eye on your battery’s charge. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if necessary.
  • In a hospital setting, you should always advocate for yourself and ask your loved ones to advocate for you.
  • Whenever you can, use your hearing aids, and keep them in their case when you aren’t using them.

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

Hearing loss can cause health issues

So maybe it’s time to stop thinking of hearing health and your overall wellness as two completely different things. After all your overall health can be substantially impacted by your hearing. 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. The next time you find yourself in the hospital, be sure your hearing aids are with you.

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