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 new knee! Hey, the things you get excited about change as you get older. He will be able to move moving around more easily and will experience less pain with his new knee. So the operation is a success and Tom heads home.

That’s when things go wrong.

Unfortunately, the healing process doesn’t go as it should. An infection sets in, and Tom ends up back in the hospital for another knee surgery. It’s becoming less exciting for Tom by the minute. The nurses and doctors have come to the conclusion that Tom wasn’t adhering to their advice and instructions for recovery.

So here’s the thing: it’s not that Tom didn’t want to observe those recovery instructions. The problem is that he never heard them. It just so happens that there is a strong connection between hospital visits and hearing loss, so Tom isn’t alone.

Hearing loss can lead to more hospital visits

The common disadvantages of hearing loss are something that most individuals are already familiar with: you grow more distant from your loved ones, you raise your risk of social isolation, and have an increased risk of getting dementia. But there can be added, less apparent disadvantages to hearing loss, too, some of which we’re just beginning to truly understand.

Increased emergency room visits is one of those relationships that’s becoming more clear. One study found that individuals with hearing loss have a 17% greater risk of needing a trip to the emergency room and a 44% increased risk of readmission later.

What’s the connection?

This might be the situation for a couple of reasons.

  • 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 occur if you’re not aware of your surroundings. Obviously, you could wind up in the hospital due to this.
  • Your potential of readmission substantially increases once you’re in the hospital. But when you’re released and go home for a time but then have to go back to the hospital, readmission occurs. Complications sometimes occur that result in this readmission. In other instances, readmission may be the outcome of a new issue, or because the original problem wasn’t properly addressed.

Chances of readmission is increased

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

  • If you have untreated hearing loss, you may not be able to hear the instructions that your nurses and doctors give you. For example, if you can’t understand what your physical therapist is telling you to do, you will be unable to perform your physical therapy treatment as well as you otherwise would. This can lead to a longer recovery time while you’re in the hospital and also a longer recovery once you’re out.
  • If you can’t hear your recovery directions, you won’t know how to care for yourself as you continue recovering at home. You have an increased likelihood of reinjuring yourself if you’re not even aware that you didn’t hear the instructions.

For instance, let’s say you’ve recently undergone knee replacement surgery. Your surgeon may 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 land you back at the hospital).

Keeping track of your hearing aids

The solution might seem simple at first glimpse: just wear your hearing aids! Unfortunately, hearing loss usually progresses very slowly, and people with hearing loss may not always recognize they are experiencing symptoms. Coming in to see us for a hearing test is the solution here.

Even after you’ve taken the measures and invested in a set of hearing aids, there’s still the possibility of losing them. Hospital visits are frequently really 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 handle your hearing aid.

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 lots 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 informed you are about your hearing loss, the less likelihood there is for a miscommunication to occur.
  • Keep your eye on your battery’s charge. Bring spares if you need them and charge your hearing aids when you can.
  • Use your hearing aids when you can, and keep them in their case when you’re not wearing them.
  • Encourage your loved ones to advocate on your behalf. 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 phase. Be certain that you’re telling your nurses and physicians about your hearing loss.

Hearing loss can cause health problems

So maybe it’s time to stop thinking of hearing health and your overall wellness as two totally different things. After all, your hearing can have a substantial affect on your overall health. Hearing loss is like any other health problem in that it needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

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 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.