Hearing Loss Can Cause Complications During Hospitalization

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

Tom is getting a brand new knee and he’s super pumped! Look, as you grow older, the types of things you look forward to change. He will be able to move moving around more easily and will experience less pain with his new knee. So Tom is admitted, the operation is successful, and Tom heads home!

But that’s not the end of it.

The knee doesn’t heal properly. An infection takes hold, and Tom winds up back in the hospital for another knee surgery. Tom isn’t as psyched by this point. As the doctors and nurses try to figure out what took place, it becomes evident that Tom wasn’t adhering to his recovery instructions.

Tom didn’t purposely deviate from the instructions. Tom actually never even heard the instructions. Tom can feel a little better in the fact that he isn’t alone: there’s a strong connection between hearing loss and hospital visits.

Hearing loss can contribute to more hospital visits

The common drawbacks of hearing loss are something that most individuals are already familiar with: you have the tendency to socially separate yourself, causing you to become more distant from friends and loved ones, and you increase your danger of developing cognitive decline. But there can be added, less obvious drawbacks to hearing loss, too, some of which we’re just starting to actually understand.

One of those relationships that’s becoming more clear is that hearing loss can lead to an increase in emergency room visits. Individuals who struggle with 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, according to one study.

What’s the connection?

There are a couple of reasons why this could be.

  • 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 have to go back to the hospital, readmission occurs. Sometimes this happens because a complication occurs. In other cases, readmission might be the outcome of a new problem, or because the original problem wasn’t properly addressed.
  • Neglected hearing loss can negatively impact 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 sorts of injuries can, obviously, send you to the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).

Risk of readmission increases

So why are those with untreated hearing loss more likely to be readmitted to the hospital? There are a couple of reasons for this:

  • When your nurses and doctors give you instructions you might not hear them very well because of your untreated hearing loss. 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 period while you’re in the hospital as well as a longer recovery once you’re discharged.
  • If you can’t hear your recovery directions, you won’t know how to care for yourself as you recover at home. 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.

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. Now your wound is at risk of getting a severe infection (one that could land you back at the hospital).

Keeping track of your hearing aids

At first glimpse, the answer here might seem simple: you just need to use your hearing aids! Regrettably, hearing loss often advances very gradually, and those with hearing loss might not always realize they are feeling its effects. The solution here is to make an appointment for a hearing exam with us.

Even if you do have a pair of hearing aids (and you should), there’s another situation: you could lose them. Hospital trips are often quite chaotic. Which means there’s lots of potential to lose your hearing aids. You will be better able to stay engaged in your care when you’re in the hospital if you know how to handle your hearing aid.

Tips for getting prepared for a hospital visit when you have hearing loss

Knowing how to prepare for a hospital stay when you have hearing loss can avert a lot of headaches (and other discomfort) in the future. There are some simple things you can do:

  • In a hospital environment, always advocate for yourself and ask your loved ones to advocate for you.
  • Wear your hearing aids whenever you can, and put them in their case when you aren’t wearing them.
  • Communicate to hospital staff about your hearing loss. The more informed you are about your hearing loss, the less likelihood there is for a miscommunication to happen.
  • Be aware of your battery power. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if needed.
  • 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.

Communication with the hospital at every stage is key here. Your doctors and nurses need to be made aware of your hearing loss.

Hearing loss can cause health problems

It’s important to realize that your hearing health and your general health are closely linked. After all, your hearing can have a considerable impact on your general health. Hearing loss is like any other health issue in that it needs to be treated right away.

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.