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 thrilled, he’s getting a new knee! Look, as you get older, the kinds 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 Tom goes in, the operation is a success, and Tom heads home!

That’s when things go wrong.

Sadly, the healing process doesn’t go as it should. An infection sets in, and Tom ends up back in the hospital for another knee surgery. It’s becoming less thrilling for Tom by the minute. As the doctors and nurses try to figure out what happened, it becomes clear that Tom wasn’t following his recovery guidelines.

Tom didn’t purposely deviate from the guidelines. Tom actually never even heard the instructions. 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The common disadvantages of hearing loss are something that most people are already acquainted with: you become more withdrawn from your loved ones, you raise your risk of social separation, and have an increased danger of getting dementia. But we’re finally starting to comprehend some of the less obvious disadvantages to hearing loss.

One of those relationships that’s becoming more evident is that hearing loss can result in an increase in emergency room trips. Individuals who struggle with neglected hearing loss have a greater danger of taking a trip to the emergency room by 17% and will be 44% more likely to need to be readmitted later, as reported by one study.

Is there a connection?

There are a couple of reasons why this could be.

  • Your chance of readmission substantially increases once you’re in the hospital. 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. In other instances, readmission might be the outcome of a new problem, or because the original problem wasn’t addressed correctly.
  • 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 wind up in the hospital because of this.

Chances of readmission is increased

So why are those with neglected hearing loss more likely to be readmitted to the hospital? This happens for a couple of reasons:

  • If you have neglected hearing loss, you might not be able to hear the instructions that your doctors and nurses give you. For example, if you can’t understand what your physical therapist is telling you to do, you won’t be able to perform your physical therapy treatment as well as you otherwise would. This can lead to a longer recovery time 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 recover at home. If you’re unable to hear the instructions (and particularly if you don’t know you aren’t hearing your instructions properly), you’re more likely to reinjure yourself.

For example, let’s pretend you’ve recently had knee replacement surgery. Your surgeon may tell you not to shower for the next 3 weeks, but you hear 3 days instead. Now your wound is in danger of getting a serious infection (one that could put you back at the hospital).

Keeping track of your hearing aids

The answer might seem straight-forward at first glimpse: just use your hearing aids! Regrettably, hearing loss often develops very gradually, and individuals with hearing loss might not always realize they are feeling its effects. Coming in to see us for a hearing exam is the solution here.

Even after you’ve taken the measures and invested in a pair of hearing aids, there’s still the chance you may lose them. Hospital trips are often rather chaotic. So the possibility of losing your hearing aid is absolutely present. You will be better able to remain involved in your care when you’re in the hospital if you know how to deal with your hearing aid.

Tips for bringing 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:

  • Whenever you can, use your hearing aids, and when you aren’t using them, make sure to keep them in the case.
  • Keep your eye on your battery’s charge. 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 loved ones to advocate for you.
  • 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.
  • Make sure that the hospital staff is aware of your hearing loss. The more informed you are about your hearing loss, the less likelihood there is for a miscommunication to occur.

Communication with the hospital at every phase is the trick here. Be certain that you’re telling your nurses and physicians about your hearing loss.

Hearing is a health concern

So maybe it’s time to stop thinking of hearing health and your overall wellness as two completely different things. After all your overall health can be significantly 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 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.