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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 really jazzed! Look, as you grow older, the kinds of things you get excited about change. He will be able to move moving around more freely and will experience less pain with this knee replacement. So Tom goes in, the operation is a success, and Tom heads home!

But that isn’t the end of it.

Unfortunately, the healing process doesn’t go as it should. An infection sets in, and Tom winds up back in the hospital for another knee surgery. Tom is not as psyched by this point. As the nurses and doctors attempt to determine what occurred, it becomes clear that Tom wasn’t following his recovery guidelines.

Tom didn’t purposely deviate from the instructions. The issue is that he never heard them. It turns out that there is a solid link between hospital visits and hearing loss, so Tom isn’t by himself.

More hospital visits can be the outcome of hearing loss

At this point, you’re likely acquainted with the typical drawbacks of hearing loss: you become more distant from your loved ones, you raise your risk of social isolation, and have an increased danger of getting dementia. But there can be additional, less apparent disadvantages to hearing loss, too, some of which we’re just beginning to actually understand.

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

Is there a link?

This could be the situation for a couple of reasons.

  • Untreated hearing loss can negatively affect your situational awareness. If you aren’t aware of your surroundings, you may be more likely to have a car accident or stub your toe. These kinds of injuries can, obviously, land you in the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).
  • Once you’re in the hospital, your likelihood of readmission goes up considerably. Readmission occurs when you are released from the hospital, spend some time at home, and then need to go back to the hospital. Sometimes this happens because a complication occurs. Readmission can also occur because the original issue wasn’t properly managed or even from a new problem.

Increased chances of readmission

Why is readmission more likely for individuals who have untreated hearing loss? There are a couple of reasons for this:

  • If you have neglected hearing loss, you might not be able to hear the instructions that your doctors and nurses give you. You won’t be able to effectively do your physical therapy, for instance, if you fail to hear the guidelines from your physical therapist. Whether you’re still in the hospital or at home, your recovery period could be greatly increased.
  • 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.

Let’s say, for example, you’ve recently had surgery to replace your knee. Your surgeon might 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 developing a severe infection (one that could land you back at the hospital).

Keeping track of your hearing aids

The solution might seem straight-forward at first glimpse: you just need to use your hearing aids! Unfortunately, hearing loss often develops very slowly, and individuals with hearing loss may not always recognize they are experiencing symptoms. Coming in to see us for a hearing exam is the solution here.

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

Tips for prepping for a hospital stay when you have hearing loss

If you have hearing loss and you’re going in for a hospital stay, a lot of the headaches and discomfort can be prevented by knowing how to get yourself ready. There are some easy things you can do:

  • Whenever you can, use your hearing aids, and put 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 needed.
  • In a hospital environment, you should always advocate for yourself and ask your family to advocate for you.
  • Don’t forget to bring your case. Using a case for your hearing aid is very important. They will be able to be better cared for that way.
  • 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 occur.

The key here is to communicate with the hospital at every stage. Be sure you’re telling your nurses and doctors about your hearing loss.

Hearing is a health concern

It’s important to realize that your hearing health and your overall health are closely related. After all, your hearing can have a significant affect on your overall health. Hearing loss is like any other health problem in that it needs to be treated right away.

The power to avoid Tom’s fate is in your hands. The next time you find yourself in the hospital, be sure your hearing aids are with you.

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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.
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