When You’re Hospitalized, Hearing Loss Can Lead to Complications

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! Look, as you grow older, the types of things you look forward to change. He will be capable of moving around more easily and will experience less pain with his new knee. So Tom is admitted, the operation is successful, and Tom goes home!

But that’s not the end of it.

The knee doesn’t heal as well as it should. Tom ends up back in the hospital with an infection and will require another surgery. Tom is not as excited by this point. As the doctors and nurses try to determine what happened, it becomes evident that Tom wasn’t adhering to his recovery instructions.

So here’s the thing: it’s not that Tom didn’t want to follow those recovery instructions. The problem is that he didn’t hear them. Tom can take some comfort in the fact that he isn’t by himself: there’s a solid connection between hospital visits and hearing loss.

More hospital visits can be the consequence of hearing loss

The typical disadvantages of hearing loss are something that most people are already acquainted with: you tend to socially separate 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 disadvantages to hearing loss, too, some of which we’re just beginning to truly understand.

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 higher danger of going to the emergency room by 17% and will be 44% more likely to need to be readmitted later, as reported by one study.

What’s the link?

There are a couple of reasons why this could be.

  • Your situational awareness can be affected negatively by untreated hearing loss. If you’re not aware of your surroundings, you may be more likely to have a car accident or stub your toe. These types of injuries can, of course, land you in the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).
  • Once you’re in the hospital, your possibility of readmission goes up significantly. But when you’re discharged and go home for a time but then need to go back to the hospital, readmission happens. Sometimes this takes place because a complication occurs. In other cases, readmission might be the outcome of a new problem, or because the initial issue wasn’t addressed correctly.

Risk 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 neglected hearing loss, you may not be able to hear the instructions that your nurses and doctors give you. You won’t be able to properly do your physical therapy, for example, if you fail to hear the instructions from your physical therapist. Whether you’re still in the hospital or at home, your recovery time could be greatly increased.
  • Taking care of yourself after you get home will be practically impossible if you don’t hear the guidelines. You have an increased chance 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. Perhaps you’re not supposed to 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 solution may seem simple at first glance: you just need to wear your hearing aids! Sadly, in the early phases of hearing loss, it frequently goes undetected because of how slowly it progresses. Coming in to see us for a hearing exam is the solution here.

Even if you do have a pair of hearing aids (and you should), there’s another situation: you could lose them. It’s often a chaotic scene when you need to go in for a hospital stay. So the possibility of losing your hearing aid is absolutely present. You will be better able to remain engaged 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

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 simple things you can do:

  • Communicate to hospital staff about your hearing loss. The more informed you are about your hearing loss, the less chance there is for a miscommunication to occur.
  • Encourage your loved ones to advocate for you. You should always be advocating for yourself in a hospital setting.
  • Don’t forget to bring your case. Using a case for your hearing aid is very important. This will make them much easier to keep track of.
  • Be mindful of your battery power. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if necessary.
  • Use your hearing aids whenever you can, and put them in their case when you aren’t wearing them.

Communication with the hospital at every stage is the trick here. Your doctors and nurses should be told about your hearing loss.

Hearing is a health issue

So maybe it’s time to stop thinking of hearing health and your general wellness as two totally different things. After all, your hearing can have a considerable affect on your general health. Hearing loss is like any other health issue in that it needs to be treated as soon as possible.

You don’t need to be like Tom. 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.

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