Tom is excited, he’s getting a brand new knee! Hey, the things you get excited about change as you get older. He will be able to move moving around more freely and will experience less pain with his new knee. So Tom is admitted, the operation is a success, and Tom heads home!
But that isn’t the end of it.
Regrettably, the healing process doesn’t go as it should. Tom finds himself back in the hospital with an infection and will need another surgery. It’s getting less thrilling for Tom by the minute. As the doctors and nurses try to figure out what happened, it becomes clear that Tom wasn’t following his recovery instructions.
Tom didn’t purposely deviate from the guidelines. The issue is that he never heard them. It just so happens that there is a strong connection between hospital visits and hearing loss, so Tom isn’t alone.
Hearing loss can lead to more hospital visits
By now, you’re most likely acquainted with the common disadvantages of hearing loss: you grow more withdrawn from your loved ones, you increase your risk of social isolation, and have an increased risk of developing cognitive decline. But we’re finally beginning to understand some of the less apparent drawbacks to hearing loss.
One of those relationships that’s becoming more apparent is that hearing loss can lead to an increase in emergency room visits. People who suffer from untreated hearing loss have a greater danger of going 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?
There are a couple of reasons why this might be.
- Once you’re in the hospital, your likelihood of readmission goes up considerably. Readmission occurs when you’re discharged from the hospital, spend some time at home, and then have to go back to the hospital. Complications sometimes happen that lead to this readmission. In other cases, readmission may result from a new problem, or because the initial issue wasn’t addressed correctly.
- Neglected hearing loss can negatively affect your situational awareness. If you’re not aware of your surroundings, you may be more likely to get into a car accident or stub your toe. These types of injuries can, obviously, send you to the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).
Risk of readmission is increased
Why is readmission more likely for people who have neglected hearing loss? This occurs 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. You won’t be able to properly do your physical therapy, for example, if you fail to hear the instructions from your physical therapist. Whether you’re still in the hospital or at home, your recovery period could be greatly increased.
- If you can’t hear your recovery instructions, you won’t know how to care for yourself as you continue recovering at home. You have an increased likelihood of reinjuring yourself if you’re not even aware that you didn’t hear the instructions.
For example, let’s pretend 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 serious infection.
Keeping track of your hearing aids
At first glimpse, the answer here may seem basic: you just need to use your hearing aids! Sadly, in the early stages of hearing loss, it frequently goes undetected because of how gradually it advances. 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 possibility of losing them. It’s often a chaotic scene when you have 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 engaged in your care.
Tips for prepping for a hospital visit when you have hearing loss
If you have 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 get yourself ready. There are some simple things you can do:
- Keep your eye on your battery’s charge. Bring spares if you need them and charge your hearing aids when you can.
- Communicate to hospital staff about your hearing loss. Miscommunication will be less likely if they are well notified about your situation.
- Whenever you can, wear your hearing aids, and when you aren’t using them, make certain to keep them in the case.
- In a hospital environment, you should always advocate for yourself and ask your loved ones to advocate for you.
- Don’t forget to bring your case. It’s very important to have a case for your hearing aids. This will make them a lot easier to keep track of.
Communication with the hospital at every stage is key here. Be sure you’re telling your nurses and physicians about 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 completely different things. After all your overall health can be substantially impacted by your hearing. In many ways, hearing loss is the same as a broken arm, in that each of these health problems calls for prompt treatment in order to avoid possible complications.
You don’t need to be like Tom. The next time you find yourself in the hospital, make sure your hearing aids are with you.