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 thrilled, he’s getting a new knee! Look, as you age, the kinds of things you look forward to change. His knee replacement means he will suffer from less pain and be able to get around a lot better. So the operation is a success and Tom goes home.

That’s when things take a turn.

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 is not as psyched by this point. The nurses and doctors have come to the realization that Tom wasn’t following their advice and guidelines for recovery.

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

More hospital visits can be the consequence of hearing loss

The typical drawbacks of hearing loss are something that most people are already acquainted with: you become more withdrawn from your loved ones, you raise your risk of social solitude, and have an increased risk of developing dementia. But we’re finally starting to comprehend some of the less obvious drawbacks to hearing loss.

One of those relationships that’s becoming more clear is that hearing loss can lead to an increase in emergency room trips. People who suffer from untreated hearing loss have a higher danger of taking a trip to the emergency room by 17% and will be 44% more likely to have to be readmitted later, as reported by one study.

What’s the link?

This could be the case for a couple of reasons.

  • Once you’re in the hospital, your potential of readmission goes up substantially. But when you’re discharged and go home for a time but then have to go back to the hospital, readmission occurs. Complications sometimes happen that result in this readmission. Readmission can also happen because the initial problem wasn’t correctly managed or even from a new problem.
  • 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 what’s around you. These types of injuries can, obviously, land you in the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).

Chances of readmission increases

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

  • If you have neglected hearing loss, you may 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 instance, if you fail to hear the guidelines from your physical therapist. This can result in a longer recovery time while you’re in the hospital as well as a longer recovery once you’re discharged.
  • Taking care of yourself after you get home will be nearly impossible if you don’t hear the instructions. If you can’t hear the instructions (and especially if you’re not aware that you aren’t hearing your instructions properly), you’re more likely to reinjure yourself.

For instance, let’s say you’ve recently had 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 solution might seem simple at first glance: just use your hearing aids! Unfortunately, hearing loss often advances very gradually, and individuals 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 set of hearing aids (and you should), there’s another situation: you could lose them. It’s often a chaotic scene when you have to go in for a hospital stay. Which means there’s lots of potential of losing your hearing aids. You will be better able to remain involved in your care when you’re in the hospital if you know how to deal with your hearing aid.

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

Knowing how to prepare for a hospital stay when you have hearing loss can avert lots of headaches (and other discomfort) in the future. There are some easy things you can do:

  • Keep your eye on your battery’s charge. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if needed.
  • Make sure that the hospital staff is aware of your hearing loss. Miscommunication will be less likely if they are well informed about your situation.
  • Wear your hearing aids when you can, and when you aren’t wearing them, make sure to keep them in the case.
  • Don’t forget to bring your case. It’s really important to use a case for your hearing aids. They will be able to be better cared for that way.
  • Urge your loved ones to advocate for you. You should always be advocating for yourself in a hospital setting.

The trick here is to communicate with the hospital at every phase. Be certain that you’re telling your nurses and doctors about your hearing loss.

Hearing loss can cause health problems

So perhaps it’s time to stop thinking of hearing health and your overall wellness as two completely different things. After all, your hearing can have a significant affect on your general health. Hearing loss is like any other health issue in that it needs to be treated as soon as possible.

You don’t have to be like Tom. 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.