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

Tom is thrilled, 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 experience less pain and be able to get out and about a lot better. So Tom is admitted, the operation is successful, and Tom heads home!

But that isn’t the end of it.

Sadly, the healing process doesn’t go as it should. An infection sets in, and Tom winds up back in the hospital for another knee surgery. It’s getting less exciting for Tom by the minute. As the doctors and nurses attempt to figure out what happened, it becomes clear that Tom wasn’t adhering to 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 solid link between hospital visits and hearing loss, so Tom isn’t by himself.

Hearing loss can lead to more hospital visits

The typical drawbacks of hearing loss are something that most people are already acquainted with: you grow more distant from your loved ones, you increase your risk of social isolation, and have an increased risk of getting dementia. But we’re finally beginning to comprehend some of the less apparent drawbacks to hearing loss.

One of those relationships that’s becoming more apparent is that hearing loss can result in an increase in emergency room visits. Individuals who struggle with untreated hearing loss have a greater risk of going to the emergency room by 17% and will be 44% more likely to have to be readmitted later on, according to one study.

What’s the connection?

This could be the case for a couple of reasons.

  • Untreated 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 aren’t aware of what’s around you. Obviously, you could wind up in the hospital because of this.
  • Once you’re in the hospital, your potential of readmission goes up significantly. Readmission happens when you’re released from the hospital, spend some time at home, and then need to go back to the hospital. Sometimes this happens because a complication occurs. Readmission can also happen because the initial issue wasn’t properly managed or even from a new issue.

Risk of readmission is increased

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

  • If you have untreated hearing loss, you may not be able to hear the instructions that your nurses and doctors give you. For instance, if you can’t understand what your physical therapist is telling you to do, you will be unable to do your physical therapy treatment as well as you otherwise would. This can lead to a longer recovery period while you’re in the hospital as well as a longer recovery once you’re discharged.
  • Taking care of yourself after you get home will be practically impossible if you don’t hear the instructions. You have a higher 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. Perhaps you’re not supposed to take a shower for three weeks but you thought your doctor said three days. Now your wound is at risk of developing a severe infection (one that could land you back at the hospital).

Keeping track of your hearing aids

At first glance, the solution here might seem basic: just wear your hearing aids! Unfortunately, hearing loss usually develops very slowly, and those with hearing loss may not always recognize they are experiencing symptoms. The solution here is to schedule a hearing test with us.

Even after you’ve taken the steps and invested in a set of hearing aids, there’s still the chance you may lose them. Hospital trips are often rather chaotic. Which means there’s lots of potential to lose your hearing aids. Knowing how to handle hearing aids during a hospital stay can help you remain engaged in your care.

Tips for preparing for a hospital stay 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. There are some simple things you can do:

  • Communicate to hospital staff about your hearing loss. The more educated you are about your hearing loss, the less chance there is for a miscommunication to happen.
  • In a hospital setting, you should always advocate for yourself and ask your family to advocate for you.
  • Don’t forget to bring your case. Using a case for your hearing aid is very important. They will be able to be better cared for that way.
  • Whenever you can, wear your hearing aids, and keep them in their case when you’re not using them.
  • Keep your eye on your battery’s charge. Bring spares if you need them and charge your hearing aids when you can.

Communication with the hospital at every phase is key here. Be certain that you’re telling your nurses and physicians 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 hearing can have a considerable impact on your overall health. Hearing loss is like any other health problem in that it needs to be treated right away.

You don’t have to be like Tom. The next time you find yourself in the hospital, make sure your hearing aids are with you.

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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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