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 kinds of things you look forward to change. His knee replacement means he will suffer from less pain and be able to get out and about a lot better. So the surgery is a success and Tom heads home.

That’s when things go wrong.

The knee doesn’t heal properly. An infection sets in, and Tom winds up back in the hospital for another knee surgery. It’s becoming less thrilling for Tom by the minute. As the doctors and nurses attempt to figure out what occurred, it becomes clear that Tom wasn’t adhering to his recovery guidelines.

So here’s the thing: it isn’t that Tom didn’t want to follow those recovery instructions. The issue is that he didn’t hear them. Tom can feel a little better in the fact that he isn’t by himself: there’s a strong link between hearing loss and hospital visits.

More hospital visits can be the consequence of hearing loss

At this point, you’re likely familiar with the common disadvantages of hearing loss: you grow more distant from your loved ones, you raise your risk of social separation, and have an increased risk of getting cognitive decline. But there can be added, less apparent drawbacks to hearing loss, too, some of which we’re just starting to truly understand.

Increased emergency room trips is one of those relationships that’s becoming more clear. One study discovered that individuals with hearing loss have a 17% greater danger of needing a trip to the emergency room and a 44% higher chance of readmission later.

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 considerably. Readmission occurs when you’re released 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. In other instances, readmission might result from a new problem, or because the original issue wasn’t addressed correctly.
  • Your situational awareness can be impacted negatively by untreated hearing loss. If you aren’t aware of your surroundings, you might be more likely to get into a car accident or stub your toe. Obviously, you could end up in the hospital because of this.

Chances of readmission is increased

Why is readmission more likely for individuals who have neglected hearing loss? There are a couple of reasons for this:

  • When your doctors and nurses give you instructions you might not hear them very well because of your neglected hearing loss. For instance, if you can’t understand what your physical therapist is telling you to do, you won’t be able to do your physical therapy treatment as well as you otherwise might. Whether you’re still in the hospital or at home, your recovery period 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 a higher likelihood of reinjuring yourself if you’re not even aware that you didn’t hear the instructions.

For instance, let’s say you’ve recently undergone knee replacement surgery. Your surgeon may 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 severe infection.

Keeping track of your hearing aids

At first glimpse, the answer here may seem basic: you just need to wear your hearing aids! Sadly, in the early stages of hearing loss, it frequently goes undetected because of how slowly it develops. The solution here is to make an appointment for a hearing exam with us.

Even if you do have a set of hearing aids (and you should), there’s another complication: you might 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. Knowing how to handle hearing aids during a hospital stay can help you remain involved in your care.

Tips for bringing your hearing aids with you during a hospital stay

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

  • Communicate to hospital staff about your hearing loss. Miscommunication will be less likely if they are well notified about your situation.
  • Don’t forget your case. It’s very important to use a case for your hearing aids. They will be able to be better taken care of that way.
  • Be aware of your battery power. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if necessary.
  • Encourage your loved ones to advocate for you. You should always be advocating for yourself in a hospital setting.
  • Whenever you can, use your hearing aids, and put them in their case when you’re not using them.

The trick here is to communicate with the hospital at every stage. Be certain that you’re telling your nurses and physicians about your hearing loss.

Hearing is a health concern

It’s important to realize that your hearing health and your overall health are closely linked. After all, your hearing can have a considerable impact on your overall health. In a lot of ways, hearing loss is the same as a broken arm, in that each of these health issues calls for prompt treatment in order to prevent possible complications.

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

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