Female doctor communicating with older man who has hearing loss in wheelchair examining reports at the hospital corridor.

Tom is getting a new knee and he’s really jazzed! Hey, the things you get excited about change as you get older. He will be capable of moving around more easily and will have less pain with his new knee. So Tom is admitted, the operation is a success, and Tom goes home!

That’s when things take a turn.

The knee doesn’t heal properly. Tom finds himself back in the hospital with an infection and will need another surgery. It’s becoming less thrilling for Tom by the minute. As the nurses and doctors attempt to determine what happened, it becomes evident that Tom wasn’t following his recovery guidelines.

So here’s the thing: it’s not that Tom didn’t want to follow those recovery guidelines. Tom actually never even heard the instructions. It just so happens that there is a strong connection between hospital visits and hearing loss, so Tom isn’t alone.

Hearing loss can lead to more hospital visits

The common 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 family, and you raise your risk of developing cognitive decline. But there can be added, less apparent drawbacks to hearing loss, too, some of which we’re just starting to truly understand.

Increased emergency room trips is one of those relationships that’s becoming more apparent. Individuals who suffer from neglected hearing loss have a higher risk of taking a trip to the emergency room by 17% and will be 44% more likely to need to be readmitted later on, as reported by one study.

Is there a link?

There are a couple of reasons why this might be.

  • Your situational awareness can be affected negatively by neglected hearing loss. Anything from a stubbed toe to a car accident will be more likely to happen if you aren’t aware of what’s around you. These types of injuries can, of course, send you to the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).
  • Once you’re in the hospital, your likelihood of readmission goes up considerably. But when you’re discharged and go home for a time but then have to go back to the hospital, readmission occurs. Sometimes this happens because a complication occurs. Readmission can also occur because the initial issue wasn’t correctly managed or even from a new problem.

Increased chances of readmission

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

  • When your doctors and nurses give you instructions you might not hear them very well because of your untreated hearing loss. You won’t be able to effectively do your physical therapy, for example, if you fail to hear the guidelines from your physical therapist. This can lead to a longer recovery duration while you’re in the hospital as well as a longer recovery once you’re out.
  • Caring for yourself after you get home will be nearly impossible if you don’t hear the guidelines. 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 instance, let’s say you’ve recently undergone 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 land you back at the hospital).

Keeping track of your hearing aids

The answer might seem simple at first glimpse: just wear your hearing aids! Sadly, in the early stages of hearing loss, it frequently goes undetected because of how gradually it develops. The solution here is to make an appointment for a hearing exam with us.

Even after you’ve taken the measures and invested in a pair of hearing aids, there’s still the possibility of losing them. Hospital visits are usually really chaotic. So the probability of losing your hearing aid is definitely present. You will be better able to stay involved in your care when you’re in the hospital if you know how to handle your hearing aid.

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

If you have hearing loss and you’re going in for a hospital stay, many of the headaches and discomfort can be avoided by knowing how to get yourself ready. There are some easy things you can do:

  • Don’t forget your case. Using a case for your hearing aid is very important. They will be able to be better taken care of that way.
  • Use your hearing aids when you can, and keep them in their case when you’re not using them.
  • Be mindful of your battery power. Bring spares if you need them and charge your hearing aids when you can.
  • In a hospital environment, you should always advocate for yourself and ask your family to advocate for you.
  • Communicate to hospital staff about your hearing loss. Miscommunication will be less likely if they are well informed about your situation.

Communication with the hospital at every stage is the trick here. Make sure you’re telling your nurses and physicians about your hearing loss.

Hearing is a health concern

It’s important to realize that your hearing health and your overall health are closely related. After all your general health can be considerably impacted by your hearing. Hearing loss is like any other health problem in that it needs to be addressed right away.

You don’t have to be like Tom. Keep your hearing aids close the next time you need to go in for a hospital stay.

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