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! Hey, the things you look forward to change as you age. He will be capable of moving around more easily and will experience less pain with this knee replacement. So the surgery is successful and Tom heads home.

That’s when things go wrong.

Regrettably, the healing process doesn’t go as it should. Tom ends up back in the hospital with an infection and will require another surgery. Tom is not as psyched by this point. The doctors and nurses have come to the realization that Tom wasn’t following their advice and instructions for recovery.

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 outcome of hearing loss

At this point, you’re probably familiar with the typical disadvantages of hearing loss: you tend to socially isolate yourself, causing you to become more removed from friends and family, and you raise your risk of developing cognitive decline. But there can be additional, less apparent drawbacks to hearing loss, too, some of which we’re just starting to truly understand.

Increased emergency room visits is one of those relationships that’s becoming more clear. People 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, according to one study.

What’s the link?

There are a couple of reasons why this might be.

  • Neglected hearing loss can negatively affect your situational awareness. Anything from a stubbed toe to a car accident will be more likely to occur if you aren’t aware of what’s around you. These types of injuries can, obviously, land you in the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).
  • Your chance of readmission significantly increases once you’re in the hospital. Readmission occurs when you’re released 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 initial problem wasn’t properly managed or even from a new problem.

Risk of readmission is increased

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

  • When your nurses and doctors give you instructions you may not hear them very well because of your untreated hearing loss. For instance, 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 might. Whether you’re still in the hospital or at home, your recovery duration could be greatly increased.
  • Caring for yourself after you get home will be nearly impossible if you don’t hear the instructions. You have an increased likelihood of reinjuring yourself if you’re not even aware that you didn’t hear the instructions.

Let’s say, for instance, you’ve recently had surgery to replace your knee. Your surgeon might tell you not to shower for the next 3 weeks, but you hear 3 days instead. And you might find yourself back in the hospital with a severe infection.

Keeping track of your hearing aids

The answer may seem simple at first glimpse: just use your hearing aids! Sadly, in the early stages of hearing loss, it often goes unnoticed because of how slowly it advances. The solution here is to make an appointment for a hearing exam with us.

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

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

Knowing how to get ready for a hospital stay when you have hearing loss can avert lots of headaches (and other discomfort) in the future. Here are a number of basic things you can do:

  • Use your hearing aids when you can, and put them in their case when you aren’t wearing them.
  • Bring 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.
  • Keep your eye on your battery’s charge. Bring spares if you need them and charge your hearing aids when you can.
  • Urge 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. The more informed you are about your hearing loss, the less chance there is for a miscommunication to occur.

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

Hearing loss can cause health issues

It’s important to realize that your hearing health and your general health are closely related. After all, your hearing can have a considerable impact 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. Keep your hearing aids close the next time you have to go in for a hospital stay.

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