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! Look, as you get older, the types of things you look forward to change. He will be capable of moving around more freely and will have less pain with his new knee. So the surgery is successful and Tom heads home.

That’s when things go wrong.

The knee doesn’t heal properly. Tom finds himself back in the hospital with an infection and will require another surgery. Tom is not as excited by this point. As the nurses and doctors attempt to figure out what happened, it becomes evident that Tom wasn’t adhering to his recovery instructions.

So here’s the thing: it’s not that Tom didn’t want to observe those recovery instructions. The problem is that he didn’t hear them. Tom can take some comfort in the fact that he isn’t alone: there’s a solid connection between hearing loss and hospital visits.

More hospital visits can be the result of hearing loss

The common disadvantages of hearing loss are something that most people are already familiar with: you become more withdrawn from your loved ones, you raise your risk of social separation, and have an increased danger of developing cognitive decline. But there can be additional, less obvious disadvantages to hearing loss, too, some of which we’re just beginning to truly understand.

Increased emergency room visits is one of those relationships that’s becoming more apparent. Individuals who struggle with neglected 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, as reported by one study.

Is there a link?

There are a couple of reasons why this might be.

  • Untreated 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. These types of injuries can, obviously, land you in the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).
  • Your possibility of readmission substantially increases once you’re in the hospital. 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 initial issue wasn’t properly managed or even from a new problem.

Chances of readmission increases

Why is readmission more likely for individuals who have neglected 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 untreated hearing loss. You won’t be able to properly do your physical therapy, for instance, if you fail to hear the guidelines from your physical therapist. This can lead to 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 likelihood of reinjuring yourself if you don’t even know that you didn’t hear the instructions.

Let’s say, for example, you’ve recently had surgery to replace your knee. Maybe you’re not supposed to take a shower for three weeks but you thought your doctor said three days. And you might find yourself back in the hospital with a serious infection.

Keeping track of your hearing aids

At first glance, the answer here might seem basic: just use your hearing aids! Sadly, in the early phases of hearing loss, it frequently goes undetected because of how gradually it progresses. 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 could lose them. It’s frequently a chaotic scene when you need to go in for a hospital stay. Which means there’s a lot of potential to lose your hearing aids. Knowing how to handle hearing aids during a hospital stay can help you remain involved in your care.

Tips for taking your hearing aids with you during a hospital stay

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:

  • In a hospital environment, you should always advocate for yourself and ask your loved ones to advocate for you.
  • Whenever you can, wear your hearing aids, and put them in their case when you’re not wearing them.
  • Communicate to hospital staff about your hearing loss. Miscommunication will be less likely if they are well informed about your situation.
  • Keep your eye on your battery’s charge. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if necessary.
  • Bring your case with you. It’s really important to have a case for your hearing aids. This will make them much easier to keep track of.

Communication with the hospital at every stage is the trick here. Your doctors and nurses should be told about your hearing loss.

Hearing is a health issue

It’s important to realize that your hearing health and your overall health are closely linked. After all, your hearing can have a substantial impact on your general health. In many ways, hearing loss is no different than a broken arm, in that each of these health issues calls for prompt treatment in order to prevent possible complications.

The power to avoid Tom’s fate is in your hands. The next time you find yourself in the hospital, be certain that 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.