Hearing Loss Can Cause 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 brand new knee! Hey, the things you look forward to change as you get older. His knee replacement means he will feel less pain and be able to get out and about a lot better. So Tom goes in, the operation is successful, and Tom heads home!

But that’s not the end of it.

Unfortunately, the healing process doesn’t go very well. Tom finds himself back in the hospital with an infection and will require another surgery. Tom isn’t as psyched by this point. The doctors and nurses have come to the conclusion that Tom wasn’t following their advice and instructions for recovery.

Tom didn’t purposely deviate from the instructions. Tom actually never even heard the instructions. Tom can take some comfort in the fact that he isn’t by himself: there’s a strong connection between hearing loss and hospital visits.

More hospital visits can be the outcome of hearing loss

The common disadvantages of hearing loss are something that most people are already familiar with: you become more distant from your loved ones, you increase your risk of social separation, and have an increased risk of developing cognitive decline. But there can be additional, less obvious drawbacks 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 found that individuals with hearing loss have a 17% greater risk of needing a visit to the emergency room and a 44% increased risk of readmission later.

What’s the connection?

This might be the case for a couple of reasons.

  • Neglected hearing loss can negatively impact your situational awareness. Anything from a stubbed toe to a car accident will be more likely to happen if you’re not aware of what’s around you. Obviously, you could end up in the hospital due to this.
  • Your chance of readmission considerably increases once you’re in the hospital. Readmission occurs when you’re discharged from the hospital, spend some time at home, and then have to go back to the hospital. Sometimes this happens because a complication occurs. In other cases, readmission may result from a new issue, or because the initial problem wasn’t properly addressed.

Increased risk of readmission

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

  • If you have neglected hearing loss, you may not be able to hear the instructions that your nurses and doctors give you. For example, if you can’t hear what your physical therapist is telling you to do, you won’t be able to do your physical therapy treatment as well as you otherwise might. This can lead to a longer recovery duration while you’re in the hospital as well as a longer recovery once you’re discharged.
  • If you can’t hear your recovery instructions, you won’t know how to take care of yourself as you continue recovering at home. You have an increased likelihood of reinjuring yourself if you don’t even know that you didn’t hear the instructions.

For example, let’s pretend you’ve recently had 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 might find yourself back in the hospital with a serious infection.

Keeping track of your hearing aids

At first glance, the solution here might seem simple: just wear your hearing aids! Regrettably, hearing loss usually develops very gradually, and individuals with hearing loss may not always realize they are experiencing symptoms. The solution here is to make an appointment for a hearing exam with us.

Even if you do have a pair of hearing aids (and you should), there’s another complication: you could lose them. It’s often a chaotic scene when you have to go in for a hospital stay. Which means there’s a lot of potential of losing your hearing aids. 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 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, a lot of the headaches and discomfort can be avoided by knowing how to prepare. Here are a number of basic things you can do:

  • Don’t forget your case. It’s very important to use a case for your hearing aids. This will make them much easier to keep track of.
  • Be aware of your battery power. Bring spares if you need them and charge your hearing aids when you can.
  • Make sure that the hospital staff is aware of your hearing loss. Miscommunication will be less likely if they are well notified about your situation.
  • Use your hearing aids when you can, and when you aren’t wearing them, make sure to keep them in the case.
  • In a hospital setting, you should always advocate for yourself and ask your family to advocate for you.

The trick here is to communicate with the hospital at every stage. Your doctors and nurses should be made aware of your hearing loss.

Hearing loss can cause health problems

It’s important to realize that your hearing health and your general health are closely linked. After all your general health can be considerably affected by your hearing. In a lot of ways, hearing loss is no different than a broken arm, in that each of these health problems 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 have 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.