When You’re Hospitalized, Hearing Loss Can Cause 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! Hey, the things you get excited about change as you get older. His knee replacement means he will feel less pain and be able to get around a lot better. So Tom goes in, the operation is successful, and Tom heads home!

But that’s not the end of it.

The knee doesn’t heal properly. Tom ends up back in the hospital with an infection and will need another surgery. Tom isn’t as excited by this point. The nurses and doctors have come to the realization that Tom wasn’t adhering to their advice and guidelines for recovery.

Tom didn’t purposely ignore the instructions. The issue is that he didn’t hear them. It just so happens that there is a solid connection between hospital visits and hearing loss, so Tom isn’t by himself.

Hearing loss can result in more hospital visits

By now, you’re most likely familiar with the typical drawbacks of hearing loss: you tend to socially isolate yourself, causing you to become more distant from friends and loved ones, and you increase your risk of developing cognitive decline. But we’re finally beginning to understand some of the less obvious drawbacks to hearing loss.

One of those relationships that’s becoming more clear is that hearing loss can lead to an increase in emergency room trips. People who struggle with neglected hearing loss have a higher risk of going to the emergency room by 17% and will be 44% more likely to need to be readmitted later on, as reported by one study.

Is there a link?

There are a couple of reasons why this might be.

  • Your situational awareness can be affected negatively by neglected hearing loss. If you’re not aware of your surroundings, you might be more likely to have a car accident or stub your toe. Obviously, you could wind up in the hospital due to this.
  • Your chance of readmission considerably increases once you’re in the hospital. But when you’re discharged and go home for a time but then need to go back to the hospital, readmission occurs. Complications sometimes occur that result in this readmission. In other cases, readmission might be the outcome of a new problem, or because the original issue wasn’t properly addressed.

Increased chances of readmission

So why are those with untreated 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 might not hear them very well because of your neglected hearing loss. For instance, if you can’t hear 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 result in a longer recovery duration while you’re in the hospital and also a longer recovery once you’re discharged.
  • Caring for yourself after you get home will be nearly impossible if you don’t hear the instructions. You have a higher likelihood of reinjuring yourself if you don’t even know that you didn’t hear the instructions.

For example, let’s pretend you’ve recently undergone knee replacement surgery. Perhaps you’re not supposed to take a shower for three weeks but you thought your doctor said three days. 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 may seem basic: you just need to use your hearing aids! Regrettably, hearing loss usually develops very gradually, and people with hearing loss may not always realize they are experiencing symptoms. Coming in to see us for a hearing exam is the solution here.

Even after you’ve taken the steps and invested in a pair of hearing aids, there’s still the chance you may lose them. Hospital trips are frequently very chaotic. Which means there’s lots of potential of losing 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

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

  • Use your hearing aids when you can, and put them in their case when you aren’t using them.
  • In a hospital environment, you should always advocate for yourself and ask your family to advocate for you.
  • Don’t forget your case. It’s very important to have a case for your hearing aids. This will make them much easier to keep track of.
  • Make sure that the hospital staff is aware of your hearing loss. Miscommunication will be less likely if they are well notified about your situation.
  • Be aware of your battery power. Bring spares if you need them and charge your hearing aids when you can.

The trick here is to communicate with the hospital at every phase. Your doctors and nurses should be made aware of your hearing loss.

Hearing loss can cause health issues

So maybe it’s time to stop thinking of hearing health and your overall wellness as two totally different things. After all, your hearing can have a significant impact on your overall health. Hearing loss is like any other health issue in that it needs to be addressed right away.

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

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.