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 age. He will be capable of moving around more easily and will have less pain with this knee replacement. So the surgery is a success and Tom heads home.

That’s when things go wrong.

Regrettably, the healing process doesn’t go as it should. An infection takes hold, and Tom winds up back in the hospital for another knee surgery. It’s getting less thrilling for Tom by the minute. As the nurses and doctors try to determine what occurred, it becomes clear that Tom wasn’t following his recovery guidelines.

Tom didn’t purposely deviate from the guidelines. Tom actually never even heard the instructions. It just so happens that there is a strong link between hospital visits and hearing loss, so Tom isn’t alone.

More hospital visits can be the consequence of hearing loss

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

One of those relationships that’s becoming more clear is that hearing loss can lead to an increase in emergency room trips. Individuals who struggle with neglected hearing loss have a greater risk of taking a trip to the emergency room by 17% and will be 44% more likely to have to be readmitted later, according to one study.

Is there a link?

This could be the case for a couple of reasons.

  • Once you’re in the hospital, your likelihood of readmission increases substantially. Readmission occurs when you’re discharged from the hospital, spend some time at home, and then need to go back to the hospital. Sometimes this takes place because a complication occurs. Readmission can also happen because the initial issue wasn’t properly managed or even from a new issue.
  • Untreated hearing loss can negatively affect your situational awareness. Anything from a stubbed toe to a car accident will be more likely to take place if you aren’t aware of what’s around you. These kinds of injuries can, of course, land you in the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).

Chances of readmission is increased

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

  • If you have untreated hearing loss, you may not be able to hear the instructions that your doctors and nurses give you. You won’t be able to properly 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 and also a longer recovery once you’re discharged.
  • If you’re unable to hear your recovery directions, you won’t know how to care for yourself as you continue recovering at home. If you’re unable to 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 example, let’s say you’ve recently had knee replacement surgery. Your surgeon might tell you not to take a shower for the next 3 weeks, but you hear 3 days instead. And you might find yourself back in the hospital with a serious infection.

Keeping track of your hearing aids

At first glance, the answer here might seem simple: you just need to use your hearing aids! Unfortunately, hearing loss usually develops very slowly, and individuals with hearing loss might not always realize they are feeling its effects. Coming in to see us for a hearing test is the solution here.

Even if you do have a set of hearing aids (and you should), there’s another complication: you could lose them. Hospital trips are usually rather chaotic. So the probability 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 visit when you have hearing loss

Knowing how to prepare for a hospital stay when you’re dealing with hearing loss can prevent lots of headaches (and other discomfort) in the future. There are some easy things you can do:

  • Use your hearing aids when you can, and when you aren’t using them, make sure to keep them in the case.
  • Communicate to hospital staff about your hearing loss. Miscommunication will be less likely if they are well informed about your situation.
  • Keep your eye on your battery’s charge. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if necessary.
  • Don’t forget your case. It’s really important to have a case for your hearing aids. They will be able to be better taken care of that way.
  • In a hospital setting, you should always advocate for yourself and ask your loved ones to advocate for you.

The key here is to communicate with the hospital at every stage. Your doctors and nurses should be told about your hearing loss.

Hearing loss can cause health issues

It’s important to acknowledge that your hearing health and your overall health are closely linked. After all your overall health can be considerably impacted by your hearing. Hearing loss is like any other health problem in that it needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

The power to avoid Tom’s fate is in your hands. The next time you find yourself in the hospital, make sure your hearing aids are nearby.

Call Today to Set Up an Appointment

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.
Why wait? You don't have to live with hearing loss. Call or Text Us