Tom is thrilled, he’s getting a new knee! Hey, the things you look forward to change as you get older. His knee replacement means he will feel less pain and be able to get out and about a lot better. So Tom goes in, the operation is successful, and Tom heads home!
But that’s not the end of it.
The knee doesn’t heal as well as it should. An infection sets in, and Tom ends up back in the hospital for another knee surgery. Tom isn’t as psyched by this point. The nurses and doctors have come to the conclusion that Tom wasn’t adhering to their advice and instructions for recovery.
Tom didn’t purposely deviate from the guidelines. The issue is that he never heard them. It turns out that there is a solid connection between hospital visits and hearing loss, so Tom isn’t alone.
Hearing loss can contribute to more hospital visits
The typical drawbacks of hearing loss are something that most people are already acquainted with: you have the tendency to socially isolate yourself, causing you to become more distant from friends and family, and you increase your risk of developing cognitive decline. But there can be additional, less obvious disadvantages to hearing loss, too, some of which we’re just beginning to truly understand.
Increased emergency room visits is one of those relationships that’s becoming more clear. People who suffer from untreated hearing loss have a higher danger of going 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?
This could be the case for a couple of reasons.
- Untreated hearing loss can negatively affect your situational awareness. If you’re not aware of your surroundings, you may be more likely to have a car accident or stub your toe. Of course, you could end up in the hospital because of this.
- Once you’re in the hospital, your potential of readmission increases considerably. Readmission occurs when you are discharged from the hospital, spend some time at home, and then need to go back to the hospital. Complications sometimes happen that result in this readmission. Readmission can also occur because the initial problem wasn’t correctly managed or even from a new problem.
Increased risk of readmission
So why are individuals with neglected hearing loss more likely to be readmitted to the hospital? This happens for a couple of reasons:
- If you have neglected hearing loss, you might 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 instance, 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.
- Caring for yourself after you get home will be nearly impossible if you don’t hear the instructions. If you’re unable to hear the instructions (and especially if you don’t know you aren’t hearing your instructions properly), you’re more likely to reinjure yourself.
Let’s say, for instance, you’ve recently undergone surgery to replace your knee. Perhaps you’re not supposed to take a shower for three weeks but you thought your doctor said three days. And you might find yourself back in the hospital with a serious infection.
Keeping track of your hearing aids
The answer might seem straight-forward at first glance: you just need to wear your hearing aids! Sadly, in the early stages of hearing loss, it frequently goes unnoticed because of how gradually it develops. Coming in to see us for a hearing exam is the solution here.
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. So the probability of losing your hearing aid is definitely present. Knowing how to deal with 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
Knowing how to prepare for a hospital stay when you’re dealing with hearing loss can prevent a lot of headaches (and other discomfort) in the future. There are some simple things you can do:
- Bring your case with you. Using a case for your hearing aid is very important. This will make them a lot easier to keep track of.
- Whenever you can, use your hearing aids, and put them in their case when you’re not wearing them.
- Urge your loved ones to advocate on your behalf. You should always be advocating for yourself in a hospital setting.
- 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.
- Be aware of your battery power. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if necessary.
Communication with the hospital at every phase is key here. Your doctors and nurses should be made aware of your hearing loss.
Hearing loss can cause health problems
It’s important to recognize that your hearing health and your overall health are closely related. After all your overall health can be significantly affected by your hearing. Hearing loss is like any other health problem in that it needs to be addressed 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.