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 excited, he’s getting a brand new knee! Hey, the things you look forward to change as you age. He will be able to move moving around more freely and will experience less pain with his new knee. So Tom is admitted, the operation is successful, and Tom heads home!

That’s when things take a turn.

Sadly, the healing process doesn’t go as it should. Tom ends up 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 determine what occurred, it becomes clear that Tom wasn’t following his recovery instructions.

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 strong link between hearing loss and hospital visits.

More hospital visits can be the result of hearing loss

By now, you’re likely acquainted with the typical disadvantages of hearing loss: you tend to socially isolate yourself, causing you to become more removed from friends and family, and you increase your risk of developing dementia. But there can be added, less obvious disadvantages 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 clear. One study discovered that people with hearing loss have a 17% higher danger of needing a visit to the emergency room and a 44% increased chance of readmission later on.

Is there a connection?

This might be the situation for a couple of reasons.

  • Once you’re in the hospital, your potential of readmission goes up considerably. Readmission occurs when you’re discharged from the hospital, spend some time at home, and then need to go back to the hospital. Complications sometimes happen that lead to this readmission. Readmission can also occur because the original problem wasn’t properly managed or even from a new problem.
  • Neglected hearing loss can negatively impact your situational awareness. If you’re not aware of your surroundings, you may be more likely to have a car accident or stub your toe. Of course, you could end up in the hospital due to this.

Chances of readmission increases

Why is readmission more likely for people who have untreated hearing loss? 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 instructions from your physical therapist. Whether you’re still in the hospital or at home, your recovery time could be greatly increased.
  • Taking care of yourself after you get home will be practically impossible if you don’t hear the guidelines. If you’re unable to hear the instructions (and particularly 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 had surgery to replace your knee. Your surgeon may tell you not to 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 put you back at the hospital).

Keeping track of your hearing aids

The solution might seem straight-forward at first glimpse: just use your hearing aids! Unfortunately, hearing loss often advances very gradually, and those with hearing loss may not always recognize they are experiencing symptoms. The solution here is to schedule a hearing test with us.

Even if you do have a pair of hearing aids (and you should), there’s another situation: you might lose them. Hospital trips are often rather chaotic. Which means there’s a lot 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 bringing your hearing aids with you during a hospital stay

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:

  • In a hospital setting, you should always advocate for yourself and ask your family to advocate for you.
  • Don’t forget your case. It’s very important to use a case for your hearing aids. They will be able to be better taken care of that way.
  • Whenever you can, use your hearing aids, and when you aren’t using them, make certain to keep them in the case.
  • Communicate to hospital staff about your hearing loss. Miscommunication will be less likely if they are well notified about your situation.
  • Keep your eye on your battery’s charge. Bring spares if you need them and charge your hearing aids when you can.

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 issue

It’s important to acknowledge that your hearing health and your general health are closely related. After all your general health can be considerably affected by your hearing. In many ways, hearing loss is no different than a broken arm, in that each of these health problems calls for prompt treatment in order to prevent possible complications.

The ability 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.