Tom is getting a brand new knee and he’s super pumped! Hey, the things you get excited about change as you age. His knee replacement means he will suffer from less pain and be able to get around a lot better. So the operation is a success and Tom heads home.
That’s when things go wrong.
Regrettably, the healing process doesn’t go very well. Tom ends up back in the hospital with an infection and will require another surgery. It’s getting less exciting for Tom by the minute. As the nurses and doctors try to figure out what occurred, it becomes clear that Tom wasn’t following his recovery instructions.
So here’s the thing: it’s not that Tom didn’t want to observe those recovery instructions. Tom actually never even heard the instructions. Tom can take some comfort in the fact that he isn’t alone: there’s a solid connection between hearing loss and hospital visits.
Hearing loss can lead to more hospital visits
By now, you’re most likely familiar with the common disadvantages of hearing loss: you have the tendency to socially separate yourself, causing you to become more distant from friends and family, and you increase your risk of developing cognitive decline. But we’re finally starting to comprehend some of the less apparent disadvantages to hearing loss.
One of those relationships that’s becoming more evident is that hearing loss can result in an increase in emergency room trips. Individuals who suffer from neglected hearing loss have a greater danger 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.
- Your likelihood of readmission significantly 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 lead to this readmission. In other instances, readmission might result from a new issue, or because the initial issue wasn’t addressed correctly.
- Untreated hearing loss can negatively affect your situational awareness. If you aren’t aware of your surroundings, you may be more likely to get into a car accident or stub your toe. These kinds of injuries can, of course, send you to the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).
Chances of readmission increases
Why is readmission more likely for individuals who have neglected hearing loss? This happens for a couple of reasons:
- When your nurses and doctors give you instructions you might not hear them very well because of your untreated hearing loss. For instance, if you can’t hear 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. This can result in a longer recovery time while you’re in the hospital as well as a longer recovery once you’re discharged.
- Taking care of yourself after you get home will be nearly impossible if you don’t hear the guidelines. You have an increased likelihood of reinjuring yourself if you don’t even know that you didn’t hear the instructions.
For example, let’s say you’ve recently had knee replacement surgery. Your surgeon might tell you not to shower for the next 3 weeks, but you hear 3 days instead. Now your wound is in danger of developing 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 basic: just use your hearing aids! Sadly, in the early phases of hearing loss, it often goes undetected because of how gradually it progresses. 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 situation: you could lose them. It’s frequently a chaotic scene when you need to go in for a hospital stay. So the possibility of losing your hearing aid is absolutely present. You will be better able to remain involved in your care when you’re in the hospital if you know how to handle your hearing aid.
Tips for prepping for a hospital visit when you have hearing loss
Knowing how to get ready for a hospital stay when you have hearing loss can avert lots of headaches (and other discomfort) in the future. There are some simple things you can do:
- Whenever you can, use your hearing aids, and when you aren’t wearing them, make sure to keep them in the case.
- Urge your loved ones to advocate for you. You should always be advocating for yourself in a hospital setting.
- Bring your case with you. Having a case for your hearing aid is very important. This will make them much easier to keep track of.
- Communicate to hospital staff about your hearing loss. Miscommunication will be less likely if they are well notified about your situation.
- Keep your eye on your battery’s charge. 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 stage. Your doctors and nurses need to be made aware of your hearing loss.
Hearing is a health issue
It’s important to recognize that your hearing health and your overall health are closely related. After all, your hearing can have a considerable impact on your general health. Hearing loss is like any other health problem in that it needs to be treated right away.
You don’t have to be like Tom. Keep your hearing aids close the next time you need to go in for a hospital stay.