Hearing Loss Can Cause Complications During Hospitalization

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 look forward to change as you get older. His knee replacement means he will experience less pain and be able to get around a lot better. So the operation is successful and Tom goes home.

That’s when things take a turn.

Unfortunately, the healing process doesn’t go as it should. Tom ends up back in the hospital with an infection and will require another surgery. Tom isn’t as psyched by this point. The nurses and doctors have come to the conclusion that Tom wasn’t following their advice and instructions for recovery.

Tom didn’t purposely deviate from the guidelines. Tom actually never even heard the instructions. Tom can feel a little better in the fact that he isn’t alone: there’s a solid link between hearing loss and hospital visits.

Hearing loss can lead to more hospital visits

By now, you’re probably familiar with the common disadvantages of hearing loss: you tend to socially isolate yourself, causing you to become more removed from friends and loved ones, and you increase your danger of developing cognitive decline. But there can be additional, less apparent drawbacks to hearing loss, too, some of which we’re just beginning to truly understand.

Increased emergency room trips is one of those relationships that’s becoming more evident. Individuals who struggle with untreated hearing loss have a higher risk of going to the emergency room by 17% and will be 44% more likely to need to be readmitted later on, according to one study.

What’s the connection?

This could be the situation for a couple of reasons.

  • Your situational awareness can be affected negatively by neglected hearing loss. If you aren’t aware of your surroundings, you might be more likely to have a car accident or stub your toe. Of course, you could end up in the hospital due to this.
  • Your chance of readmission significantly increases once you’re in the hospital. But when you’re released and go home for a time but then need to go back to the hospital, readmission occurs. Sometimes this takes place because a complication occurs. Readmission can also happen because the initial problem wasn’t properly managed or even from a new problem.

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:

  • When your nurses and doctors give you instructions you might not hear them very well because of your neglected hearing loss. For instance, 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. This can result in a longer recovery period while you’re in the hospital and also a longer recovery once you’re out.
  • Taking care of yourself after you get home will be practically impossible if you don’t hear the guidelines. You have a higher 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. Maybe you’re not supposed to take a shower for three weeks but you thought your doctor said three days. Now your wound is in danger of getting a serious infection (one that could land you back at the hospital).

Keeping track of your hearing aids

At first glance, the answer here might seem simple: you just need to wear your hearing aids! Unfortunately, hearing loss usually develops very gradually, and individuals 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 measures and invested in a pair of hearing aids, there’s still the chance you may lose them. It’s often a chaotic scene when you have to go in for a hospital stay. Which means there’s a lot of potential to lose your hearing aids. 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 prepare for a hospital stay when you’re dealing with hearing loss can avert lots of headaches (and other discomfort) in the future. Here are a few basic things you can do:

  • In a hospital environment, always advocate for yourself and ask your loved ones to advocate for you.
  • Make sure that the hospital staff is aware of your hearing loss. The more educated you are about your hearing loss, the less chance there is for a miscommunication to happen.
  • Whenever you can, wear your hearing aids, and keep them in their case when you aren’t wearing them.
  • Keep your eye on your battery’s charge. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if necessary.
  • Don’t forget your case. Using a case for your hearing aid is very important. This will make them much easier to keep track of.

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

Hearing is a health concern

It’s important to recognize that your hearing health and your general health are closely linked. After all, your hearing can have a significant impact on your general 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 ability to avoid Tom’s fate is in your hands. The next time you find yourself in the hospital, make certain 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.