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 getting a brand new knee and he’s super pumped! Hey, the things you get excited about change as you get older. He will be capable of moving around more freely and will have less pain with his new knee. So Tom goes in, the operation is successful, and Tom goes home!

But that’s not the end of it.

Regrettably, the healing process doesn’t go as it should. Tom finds himself back in the hospital with an infection and will need another surgery. It’s getting less thrilling for Tom by the minute. As the doctors and nurses attempt to figure out what took place, it becomes clear that Tom wasn’t following his recovery guidelines.

So here’s the thing: it isn’t that Tom didn’t want to follow those recovery guidelines. Tom actually never even heard the instructions. Tom can take some comfort in the fact that he isn’t by himself: there’s a solid link between hospital visits and hearing loss.

Hearing loss can contribute to more hospital visits

By now, you’re most likely familiar with the typical disadvantages of hearing loss: you grow more distant from your loved ones, you raise your risk of social solitude, and have an increased risk of developing cognitive decline. But we’re finally beginning to comprehend some of the less apparent disadvantages to hearing loss.

Increased emergency room trips is one of those relationships that’s becoming more apparent. One study revealed that individuals with hearing loss have a 17% higher risk of requiring a visit to the emergency room and a 44% higher risk of readmission later.

Is there a link?

There are a couple of reasons why this could be.

  • Once you’re in the hospital, your chance of readmission increases substantially. But when you’re discharged and go home for a time but then need to go back to the hospital, readmission happens. Sometimes this happens because a complication occurs. Readmission can also happen because the original issue wasn’t correctly managed or even from a new problem.
  • Your situational awareness can be impacted negatively by neglected hearing loss. If you’re not aware of your surroundings, you may be more likely to have a car accident or stub your toe. Obviously, you could wind up in the hospital due to this.

Chances of readmission increases

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

  • When your nurses and doctors give you guidelines you might 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 guidelines from your physical therapist. This can lead to a longer recovery period while you’re in the hospital as well as a longer recovery once you’re discharged.
  • If you can’t hear your recovery directions, you won’t know how to care for yourself as you continue recovering at home. 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.

Let’s say, for example, you’ve recently undergone surgery to replace your knee. Maybe you’re not supposed to shower for three weeks but you thought your doctor said three days. And you could find yourself back in the hospital with a severe infection.

Keeping track of your hearing aids

At first glance, the answer here may seem basic: just use your hearing aids! Unfortunately, hearing loss usually develops very gradually, and those with hearing loss might not always realize they are experiencing symptoms. Coming in to see us for a hearing exam is the solution here.

Even if you do have a set of hearing aids (and you should), there’s another complication: you might lose them. Hospital visits are often really chaotic. So the probability of losing your hearing aid is definitely present. You will be better able to stay involved in your care when you’re in the hospital if you know how to handle your hearing aid.

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

Knowing how to get ready for a hospital stay when you’re dealing with hearing loss can avert a lot of headaches (and other discomfort) in the future. Here are a few basic things you can do:

  • Urge your loved ones to advocate for you. You should always be advocating for yourself in a hospital setting.
  • Wear your hearing aids when you can, and when you aren’t using them, make sure to keep them in the case.
  • Be mindful of your battery power. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if necessary.
  • Take your case with you. It’s really important to use 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. Miscommunication will be less likely if they are well informed about your situation.

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

Hearing is a health issue

It’s important to understand that your hearing health and your overall health are closely linked. After all your overall health can be considerably affected by your hearing. In a lot of ways, hearing loss is the same as a broken arm, in that each of these health problems calls for prompt treatment in order to avoid possible complications.

You don’t need to be like Tom. The next time you find yourself in the hospital, be certain that your hearing aids are with you.

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.