Hearing Loss Can Result in Complications During Hospitalization

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

But that isn’t the end of it.

Regrettably, the healing process doesn’t go very well. Tom ends up back in the hospital with an infection and will need another surgery. It’s becoming less exciting for Tom by the minute. The nurses and doctors have come to the realization that Tom wasn’t adhering to their advice and instructions for recovery.

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’s not alone: there’s a solid connection between hearing loss and hospital visits.

More hospital visits can be the result of hearing loss

The typical disadvantages of hearing loss are something that most individuals are already acquainted with: you tend to socially isolate yourself, causing you to become more distant from friends and loved ones, and you increase your danger of developing dementia. But there can be additional, less apparent disadvantages to hearing loss, too, some of which we’re just beginning to actually understand.

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

Is there a link?

This could be the situation for a couple of reasons.

  • Once you’re in the hospital, your potential of readmission increases substantially. Readmission occurs when you’re discharged from the hospital, spend some time at home, and then have to go back to the hospital. Complications sometimes happen that lead to this readmission. Readmission can also occur because the original issue wasn’t properly managed or even from a new issue.
  • Your situational awareness can be impacted negatively by untreated hearing loss. If you aren’t aware of your surroundings, you may be more likely to have a car accident or stub your toe. Obviously, you could wind up in the hospital because of this.

Chances of readmission is increased

Why is readmission more likely for individuals who have neglected hearing loss? This occurs for a couple of reasons:

  • If you have untreated hearing loss, you might not be able to hear the instructions that your doctors and nurses give you. For example, if you can’t hear 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 duration while you’re in the hospital as well as a longer recovery once you’re out.
  • Taking care of yourself after you get home will be nearly impossible if you don’t hear the instructions. If you can’t 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.

For instance, let’s say you’ve recently undergone knee replacement surgery. Perhaps 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

The answer might seem simple at first glimpse: you just need to use your hearing aids! Sadly, in the early phases of hearing loss, it frequently goes undetected because of how slowly it advances. Coming in to see us for a hearing exam is the solution here.

Even if you do have a set of hearing aids (and you should), there’s another situation: you might lose them. It’s frequently a chaotic scene when you need to go in for a hospital stay. So the possibility of losing your hearing aid is absolutely present. Knowing how to handle hearing aids during a hospital stay can help you remain engaged in your care.

Tips for prepping for a hospital stay when you have hearing loss

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

  • Keep your eye on your battery’s charge. Bring spares if you need them and charge your hearing aids when you can.
  • Whenever you can, use your hearing aids, and keep them in their case when you’re not using them.
  • 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 really important to use a case for your hearing aids. They will be able to be better taken care of that way.
  • Make sure that the hospital staff is aware of your hearing loss. The more informed you are about your hearing loss, the less chance there is for a miscommunication to occur.

Communication with the hospital at every phase is the trick here. Your doctors and nurses need to be made aware of your hearing loss.

Hearing loss can cause health problems

So maybe it’s time to stop thinking of hearing health and your general wellness as two totally different things. After all your overall health can be significantly affected by your hearing. In a lot of ways, hearing loss is no different than a broken arm, in that each of these health issues requires prompt treatment in order to avoid 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 with you.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Schedule an appointment to see if hearing aids could benefit you.