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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 grow older, the types of things you get excited about change. He will be able to move moving around more easily and will have less pain with this knee replacement. So Tom is admitted, the operation is a success, and Tom heads home!

That’s when things take a turn.

The knee doesn’t heal properly. Tom ends up back in the hospital with an infection and will need another surgery. It’s getting less thrilling for Tom by the minute. The nurses and doctors have come to the realization that Tom wasn’t adhering to their advice and guidelines for recovery.

So here’s the thing: it isn’t that Tom didn’t want to follow those recovery instructions. Tom actually never even heard the instructions. Tom can feel a little better in the fact that he isn’t by himself: there’s a strong connection between hearing loss and hospital visits.

More hospital visits can be the outcome of hearing loss

The typical disadvantages of hearing loss are something that most people are already familiar with: you tend to socially separate yourself, causing you to become more removed from friends and family, and you raise your risk of developing cognitive decline. But we’re finally beginning to comprehend some of the less obvious drawbacks to hearing loss.

Increased emergency room trips is one of those relationships that’s becoming more clear. One study revealed that people with hearing loss have a 17% greater danger of needing a visit to the emergency room and a 44% increased risk of readmission later on.

Is there a connection?

This might be the case for a couple of reasons.

  • Once you’re in the hospital, your possibility of readmission increases considerably. Readmission happens when you are discharged from the hospital, spend some time at home, and then have to go back to the hospital. Sometimes this takes place because a complication occurs. In other cases, readmission may be the outcome of a new issue, or because the original problem wasn’t addressed correctly.
  • 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 happen if you’re not aware of your surroundings. These types of injuries can, obviously, send you to the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).

Increased risk of readmission

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

  • When your doctors and nurses give you instructions you might not hear them very well because of your neglected hearing loss. For example, if you can’t hear what your physical therapist is telling you to do, you won’t be able to perform your physical therapy treatment as well as you otherwise would. Whether you’re still in the hospital or at home, your recovery duration could be greatly increased.
  • Taking care of yourself after you get home will be practically impossible if you don’t hear the guidelines. You have an increased chance of reinjuring yourself if you don’t even know that you didn’t hear the instructions.

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

Keeping track of your hearing aids

At first glimpse, the solution here might seem basic: you just need to wear your hearing aids! Unfortunately, hearing loss often develops very gradually, and people with hearing loss may not always realize they are feeling its effects. Coming in to see us for a hearing exam is the solution here.

Even after you’ve taken the steps and invested in a set of hearing aids, there’s still the possibility of losing them. Hospital visits are usually rather chaotic. So the probability of losing your hearing aid is definitely present. You will be better able to stay 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 stay when you have hearing loss

Knowing how to prepare for a hospital stay when you’re dealing with hearing loss can avert a lot of headaches (and other discomfort) in the future. There are some simple things you can do:

  • Make sure that the hospital staff is aware of your hearing loss. The more educated you are about your hearing loss, the less likelihood there is for a miscommunication to happen.
  • Keep your eye on your battery’s charge. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if necessary.
  • Whenever you can, wear your hearing aids, and keep them in their case when you’re not using them.
  • Encourage your loved ones to advocate for you. You should always be advocating for yourself in a hospital setting.
  • Don’t forget your case. Using a case for your hearing aid is very important. This will make them a lot easier to keep track of.

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

Hearing loss can cause health issues

It’s important to acknowledge that your hearing health and your overall health are closely related. After all, your hearing can have a significant affect on your overall health. In a lot of ways, hearing loss is no different than a broken arm, in that each of these health problems requires 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 need to go in for a hospital stay.

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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.
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