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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! Look, as you get older, the types of things you get excited about change. He will be able to move moving around more freely and will have less pain with this knee replacement. So the surgery is successful and Tom heads home.

That’s when things go wrong.

The knee doesn’t heal as well as it should. An infection takes hold, and Tom winds up back in the hospital for another knee surgery. It’s becoming less thrilling for Tom by the minute. As the doctors and nurses attempt to figure out what happened, it becomes clear that Tom wasn’t adhering to his recovery guidelines.

Tom didn’t purposely deviate from the guidelines. The issue is that he never heard them. It turns out that there is a strong 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At this point, you’re most likely familiar with the common disadvantages of hearing loss: you become more withdrawn from your loved ones, you increase your risk of social solitude, and have an increased risk of developing dementia. But we’re finally beginning to understand some of the less apparent drawbacks to hearing loss.

One of those relationships that’s becoming more evident is that hearing loss can lead to an increase in emergency room trips. One study revealed that individuals with hearing loss have a 17% higher risk of requiring a visit to the emergency room and a 44% increased risk of readmission later.

Is there a connection?

There are a couple of reasons why this might be.

  • Once you’re in the hospital, your chance of readmission goes up significantly. But when you’re released and go home for a time but then need to go back to the hospital, readmission occurs. Complications sometimes happen that lead to this readmission. Readmission can also happen because the initial issue wasn’t properly managed or even from a new issue.
  • Your situational awareness can be affected negatively by untreated hearing loss. If you aren’t aware of your surroundings, you might be more likely to get into a car accident or stub your toe. Obviously, you could end up in the hospital due to this.

Risk 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 instructions you may not hear them very well because of your neglected hearing loss. For example, if you can’t understand what your physical therapist is telling you to do, you will be unable to do your physical therapy treatment as well as you otherwise would. Whether you’re still in the hospital or at home, your recovery duration could be greatly increased.
  • If you can’t hear your recovery directions, 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 instance, let’s say you’ve recently had knee replacement surgery. Maybe you’re not supposed to shower for three weeks but you thought your doctor said three days. 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 may seem straight-forward at first glance: you just need to wear your hearing aids! Sadly, in the early phases of hearing loss, it often goes unnoticed because of how slowly it progresses. The solution here is to schedule a hearing test with us.

Even if you do have a set of hearing aids (and you should), there’s another situation: you might lose them. Hospital trips are frequently quite chaotic. Which means there’s a lot of potential to lose your hearing aids. You will be better able to remain engaged 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 prepare 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 number of basic things you can do:

  • Take your case with you. It’s very 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.
  • Encourage your loved ones to advocate on your behalf. You should always be advocating for yourself in a hospital setting.
  • Be aware of your battery power. Bring spares if you need them and charge your hearing aids when you can.
  • Whenever you can, use your hearing aids, and put them in their case when you’re not using them.

The key here is to communicate with the hospital at every stage. Your doctors and nurses should be told about your hearing loss.

Hearing is a health concern

So maybe it’s time to stop thinking of hearing health and your general wellness as two completely different things. After all your general health can be significantly affected by your hearing. In many ways, hearing loss is the same as a broken arm, in that each of these health issues requires prompt treatment in order to avoid 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.

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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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