Female doctor communicating with older man who has hearing loss in wheelchair examining reports at the hospital corridor.

Tom is getting a new knee and he’s really jazzed! Look, as you get older, the types of things you look forward to change. He will be able to move moving around more freely and will experience less pain with this knee replacement. So the operation is successful and Tom heads home.

But that’s not the end of it.

The knee doesn’t heal properly. An infection sets in, and Tom winds up back in the hospital for another knee surgery. Tom is not as psyched by this point. The doctors and nurses have come to the realization that Tom wasn’t following their advice and guidelines for recovery.

Tom didn’t purposely ignore the instructions. The issue is that he never heard them. It just so happens that there is a solid link between hospital visits and hearing loss, so Tom isn’t alone.

Hearing loss can result in more hospital visits

By now, you’re likely acquainted with the typical drawbacks of hearing loss: you become more distant from your loved ones, you increase your risk of social isolation, and have an increased danger of getting dementia. But there can be additional, less apparent disadvantages to hearing loss, too, some of which we’re just starting to really understand.

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

What’s the connection?

This might be the situation for a couple of reasons.

  • Your situational awareness can be affected negatively by untreated hearing loss. Anything from a stubbed toe to a car accident will be more likely to happen if you aren’t aware of your surroundings. Obviously, you could wind up in the hospital because of this.
  • Once you’re in the hospital, your potential of readmission increases considerably. Readmission occurs when you’re discharged from the hospital, spend some time at home, and then need to go back to the hospital. Complications sometimes occur that lead to this readmission. In other instances, readmission might result from a new issue, or because the original problem wasn’t addressed correctly.

Increased chances of readmission

Why is readmission more likely for individuals who have untreated hearing loss? 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 effectively do your physical therapy, for instance, if you fail to hear the instructions from your physical therapist. This can lead to a longer recovery duration while you’re in the hospital as well as a longer recovery once you’re out.
  • If you’re unable to hear your recovery directions, 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 don’t even know that you didn’t hear the instructions.

For example, let’s pretend you’ve recently had 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 could 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 phases of hearing loss, it often goes undetected because of how slowly it advances. 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 complication: you might lose them. It’s frequently a chaotic scene when you have to go in for a hospital stay. Which means there’s lots of potential to lose your hearing aids. 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 getting prepared for a hospital stay when you have hearing loss

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. Here are a few basic things you can do:

  • Be mindful of your battery power. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if necessary.
  • Wear your hearing aids whenever you can, and keep them in their case when you aren’t using them.
  • Take your case with you. It’s very important to use a case for your hearing aids. They will be able to be better cared for that way.
  • In a hospital environment, you should always advocate for yourself and ask your family to advocate for you.
  • 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.

The key here is to communicate with the hospital at every phase. Make sure you’re telling your nurses and physicians about your hearing loss.

Hearing is a health concern

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

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

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