Tom is getting a new knee and he’s really jazzed! Look, as you get older, the types of things you get excited about change. His knee replacement means he will suffer from less pain and be able to get around a lot better. So the operation is successful and Tom goes home.
That’s when things go wrong.
Unfortunately, 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 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 instructions.
Tom didn’t purposely deviate from the guidelines. Tom actually never even heard the instructions. It turns out that there is a strong link between hospital visits and hearing loss, so Tom isn’t by himself.
More hospital visits can be the result of hearing loss
By now, you’re likely familiar with the common disadvantages of hearing loss: you become more distant from your loved ones, you raise your risk of social solitude, and have an increased risk of getting dementia. But we’re finally starting to comprehend some of the less apparent drawbacks to hearing loss.
Increased emergency room visits is one of those relationships that’s becoming more evident. Individuals who struggle with untreated hearing loss have a greater risk of taking a trip to the emergency room by 17% and will be 44% more likely to need to be readmitted later, as reported by one study.
Is there a link?
There are a couple of reasons why this could be.
- 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’re not aware of what’s around you. These sorts of injuries can, of course, send you to the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).
- Once you’re in the hospital, your potential of readmission goes up significantly. Readmission occurs when you are discharged from the hospital, spend some time at home, and then have to go back to the hospital. Complications sometimes happen that result in this readmission. In other cases, readmission might result from a new problem, or because the original problem wasn’t properly addressed.
Increased risk of readmission
So why are people with untreated hearing loss more likely to be readmitted to the hospital? This occurs for a couple of reasons:
- If you have neglected hearing loss, you may not be able to hear the instructions that your doctors and nurses give you. You won’t be able to properly do your physical therapy, for example, if you fail to hear the guidelines 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 chance of reinjuring yourself if you’re not even aware that you didn’t hear the instructions.
Let’s say, for example, you’ve recently had surgery to replace your knee. Maybe you’re not supposed to shower for three weeks but you thought your doctor said three days. 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 may seem basic: just use your hearing aids! Regrettably, hearing loss usually progresses very gradually, and those with hearing loss might not always recognize 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 usually quite chaotic. So the probability of losing your hearing aid is definitely present. Knowing how to handle hearing aids during a hospital stay can help you remain engaged in your care.
Tips for bringing your hearing aids with you during a hospital stay
If you have hearing loss and you’re going in for a hospital stay, many of the headaches and discomfort can be prevented by knowing how to prepare. Here are a number of basic 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.
- Be aware of your battery power. Bring spares if you need them and charge your hearing aids when you can.
- Wear your hearing aids when you can, and keep them in their case when you aren’t using them.
- Urge your loved ones to advocate on your behalf. You should always be advocating for yourself in a hospital setting.
- Take your case with you. Having a case for your hearing aid is very important. They will be able to be better taken care of that way.
The key here is to communicate with the hospital at every phase. Be certain that you’re telling your nurses and physicians about your hearing loss.
Hearing is a health concern
It’s important to understand that your hearing health and your overall health are closely related. After all your general health can be significantly affected by your hearing. Hearing loss is like any other health problem in that it needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
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.