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 getting a brand new knee and he’s super pumped! Hey, the things you look forward to change as you age. His knee replacement means he will experience less pain and be able to get out and about a lot better. So 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. Tom finds himself back in the hospital with an infection and will require another surgery. It’s becoming less thrilling for Tom by the minute. As the doctors and nurses attempt to determine what took place, it becomes clear that Tom wasn’t following his recovery instructions.

Tom didn’t purposely ignore the instructions. The problem is that he didn’t hear them. It turns out that there is a solid link between hospital visits and hearing loss, so Tom isn’t alone.

More hospital visits can be the consequence of hearing loss

At this point, you’re probably acquainted with the common drawbacks of hearing loss: you have the tendency to socially separate yourself, causing you to become more distant from friends and loved ones, and you increase your danger of developing cognitive decline. But there can be additional, less apparent disadvantages to hearing loss, too, some of which we’re just beginning to really understand.

Increased emergency room trips is one of those relationships that’s becoming more clear. One study found that individuals with hearing loss have a 17% higher danger of needing a trip to the emergency room and a 44% higher risk of readmission later.

What’s the connection?

This could be the case for a couple of reasons.

  • Your situational awareness can be impacted negatively by untreated hearing loss. Anything from a stubbed toe to a car accident will be more likely to take place if you’re not aware of your surroundings. These types of injuries can, of course, land you in the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).
  • Your potential of readmission significantly increases once you’re in the hospital. 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 occur that lead to this readmission. In other instances, readmission may be the outcome of a new issue, or because the original issue wasn’t addressed correctly.

Increased chances of readmission

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

  • When your doctors and nurses give you guidelines you might not hear them very well because of your untreated hearing loss. For example, if you can’t hear what your physical therapist is telling you to do, you will be unable to perform your physical therapy treatment as well as you otherwise might. This can result in a longer recovery duration while you’re in the hospital as well as a longer recovery once you’re out.
  • If you can’t hear your recovery directions, you won’t know how to take care of yourself as you continue recovering at home. If you’re unable to hear the instructions (and especially if you’re not aware that you aren’t hearing your instructions properly), you’re more likely to reinjure yourself.

For example, let’s say you’ve recently undergone knee replacement surgery. Maybe you’re not supposed to take a shower for three weeks but you thought your doctor said three days. And you could find yourself back in the hospital with a severe infection.

Keeping track of your hearing aids

At first glimpse, the solution here might seem simple: you just need to use your hearing aids! Sadly, in the early phases of hearing loss, it often goes undetected because of how slowly it progresses. Coming in to see us for a hearing test is the solution here.

Even after you’ve taken the measures and invested in a set of hearing aids, there’s still the possibility of losing them. Hospital trips are often really chaotic. So the probability of losing your hearing aid is definitely present. 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 preparing for a hospital visit when you have hearing loss

If you’re dealing with hearing loss and you’re going in for a hospital stay, many of the headaches and discomfort can be prevented by knowing how to get yourself ready. Here are a few basic things you can do:

  • Be aware of your battery power. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if needed.
  • Encourage your loved ones to advocate for you. You should always be advocating on your own behalf in a hospital setting.
  • Make sure that the hospital staff is aware of your hearing loss. Miscommunication will be less likely if they are well informed about your situation.
  • Wear your hearing aids when you can, and put them in their case when you’re not wearing them.
  • Take your case with you. It’s very important to use a case for your hearing aids. They will be able to be better cared for that way.

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

Hearing loss can cause health problems

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

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