Hearing Loss Can Lead to Complications During Hospitalization

Female doctor communicating with older man who has hearing loss in wheelchair examining reports at the hospital corridor.

Tom is excited, he’s getting a brand new knee! Hey, the things you look forward to change as you age. He will be capable of moving around more freely and will experience less pain with this knee replacement. So Tom goes in, the operation is successful, and Tom heads home!

That’s when things go wrong.

The knee doesn’t heal as well as it should. An infection sets in, and Tom winds up back in the hospital for another knee surgery. Tom isn’t as psyched by this point. The doctors and nurses have come to the realization that Tom wasn’t following their advice and guidelines for recovery.

So here’s the thing: it’s not that Tom didn’t want to follow those recovery instructions. Tom actually never even heard the instructions. It turns out that there is a solid link between hospital visits and hearing loss, so Tom isn’t by himself.

Hearing loss can lead to more hospital visits

At this point, you’re probably acquainted with the typical disadvantages of hearing loss: you become more withdrawn from your loved ones, you raise your risk of social solitude, and have an increased risk of developing dementia. But there can be additional, less obvious disadvantages to hearing loss, too, some of which we’re just beginning to truly understand.

One of those relationships that’s becoming more apparent is that hearing loss can lead to an increase in emergency room visits. One study discovered that people with hearing loss have a 17% greater risk of needing a visit to the emergency room and a 44% increased chance of readmission later.

What’s the connection?

There are a couple of reasons why this might be.

  • Your situational awareness can be affected negatively by untreated hearing loss. If you’re not aware of your surroundings, you may be more likely to have a car accident or stub your toe. These types of injuries can, of course, send you to the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).
  • Your likelihood of readmission significantly increases once you’re in the hospital. But when you’re discharged and go home for a time but then need to go back to the hospital, readmission happens. Complications sometimes happen that lead to this readmission. Readmission can also happen because the initial issue wasn’t correctly managed or even from a new problem.

Increased chances of readmission

Why is readmission more likely for people who have neglected 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 properly do your physical therapy, for example, if you fail to hear the instructions from your physical therapist. Whether you’re still in the hospital or at home, your recovery time could be greatly increased.
  • If you can’t hear your recovery directions, you won’t know how to take care of yourself as you recover at home. You have an increased chance of reinjuring yourself if you’re not even aware that you didn’t hear the instructions.

For example, let’s pretend 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. And you might find yourself back in the hospital with a severe infection.

Keeping track of your hearing aids

The answer might seem simple at first glimpse: you just need to wear your hearing aids! Regrettably, hearing loss usually advances very slowly, and those with hearing loss may not always recognize they are feeling its effects. The solution here is to make an appointment for a hearing exam with us.

Even after you’ve taken the steps and invested in a pair of hearing aids, there’s still the possibility of losing them. Hospital trips are frequently rather chaotic. So the probability of losing your hearing aid is definitely present. Knowing how to deal with hearing aids during a hospital stay can help you remain involved in your care.

Tips for bringing your hearing aids with you during a hospital stay

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 prepare. There are some simple things you can do:

  • Keep your eye on your battery’s charge. Bring spares if you need them and charge your hearing aids when you can.
  • Don’t forget your case. It’s very important to have a case for your hearing aids. This will make them a lot easier to keep track of.
  • 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 occur.
  • Whenever you can, wear your hearing aids, and keep them in their case when you’re not wearing them.
  • Urge your loved ones to advocate on your behalf. You should always be advocating for yourself in a hospital setting.

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

Hearing is a health issue

It’s important to understand that your hearing health and your general health are closely related. After all your general health can be substantially impacted by your hearing. In many ways, hearing loss is no different than a broken arm, in that each of these health problems requires prompt treatment in order to avoid possible complications.

The ability to avoid Tom’s fate is in your hands. Keep your hearing aids close the next time you have to go in for a hospital stay.

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.