Hearing Loss Can Result in Complications During Hospitalization

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 feel less pain and be able to get around a lot better. So Tom is admitted, the operation is a success, and Tom goes home!

That’s when things go wrong.

The knee doesn’t heal properly. Tom ends up back in the hospital with an infection and will need another surgery. Tom isn’t as excited by this point. The doctors and nurses have come to the conclusion that Tom wasn’t adhering to their advice and instructions for recovery.

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

Hearing loss can lead to more hospital visits

By now, you’re likely familiar with the common disadvantages of hearing loss: you tend to socially separate yourself, causing you to become more distant from friends and family, and you raise your risk of developing cognitive decline. But there can be added, less apparent drawbacks to hearing loss, too, some of which we’re just starting to truly understand.

One of those relationships that’s becoming more evident is that hearing loss can result in an increase in emergency room visits. Individuals who suffer from untreated hearing loss have a greater risk of taking a trip to the emergency room by 17% and will be 44% more likely to have to be readmitted later on, according to one study.

Is there a connection?

There are a couple of reasons why this could be.

  • Untreated hearing loss can negatively impact your situational awareness. Anything from a stubbed toe to a car accident will be more likely to occur if you’re not aware of what’s around you. These types of injuries can, of course, land you in the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).
  • Once you’re in the hospital, your possibility of readmission increases significantly. But when you’re discharged and go home for a time but then have to go back to the hospital, readmission happens. Sometimes this takes place because a complication occurs. Readmission can also happen because the original issue wasn’t properly managed or even from a new issue.

Chances of readmission increases

Why is readmission more likely for people who have untreated hearing loss? This happens for a couple of reasons:

  • If you have neglected hearing loss, you may not be able to hear the instructions that your doctors and nurses give you. You won’t be able to properly do your physical therapy, for instance, if you fail to hear the instructions from your physical therapist. This can lead to a longer recovery time while you’re in the hospital and also a longer recovery once you’re discharged.
  • If you can’t hear your recovery instructions, you won’t know how to care for 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 shower for the next 3 weeks, but you hear 3 days instead. Now your wound is in danger of developing a severe infection (one that could put you back at the hospital).

Keeping track of your hearing aids

At first glance, the answer here might seem simple: just wear your hearing aids! Sadly, in the early stages of hearing loss, it frequently goes unnoticed because of how gradually it advances. 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 complication: you might lose them. Hospital visits are frequently really chaotic. 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 handle your hearing aid.

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

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

  • Don’t forget to bring your case. It’s very important to use a case for your hearing aids. This will make them much easier to keep track of.
  • Be mindful of your battery power. Bring spares if you need them and charge your hearing aids when you can.
  • In a hospital environment, always advocate for yourself and ask your family to advocate for you.
  • Wear your hearing aids whenever you can, and put them in their case when you’re not wearing them.
  • Make sure that the hospital staff is aware of your hearing loss. The more informed you are about your hearing loss, the less chance there is for a miscommunication to happen.

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

Hearing loss can cause health issues

It’s important to acknowledge that your hearing health and your general health are closely related. After all, your hearing can have a considerable affect on your overall health. Hearing loss is like any other health problem in that it needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

The power to avoid Tom’s fate is in your hands. Keep your hearing aids close the next time you need 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.