Tom is excited, he’s getting a new knee! Look, as you grow older, the kinds of things you look forward to change. He will be able to move moving around more easily and will experience less pain with this knee replacement. So the surgery is successful and Tom heads home.
That’s when things go wrong.
Regrettably, the healing process doesn’t go very well. Tom finds himself back in the hospital with an infection and will need another surgery. It’s getting less exciting for Tom by the minute. As the doctors and nurses attempt to figure out what occurred, it becomes evident that Tom wasn’t adhering to his recovery guidelines.
So here’s the thing: it’s not that Tom didn’t want to follow those recovery guidelines. The problem is that he didn’t hear them. 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By now, you’re likely familiar with the typical drawbacks of hearing loss: you grow more withdrawn from your loved ones, you raise your risk of social separation, and have an increased risk of getting cognitive decline. But there can be added, less obvious disadvantages to hearing loss, too, some of which we’re just starting to really understand.
One of those relationships that’s becoming more apparent is that hearing loss can lead to an increase in emergency room visits. 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 on, according to one study.
Is there a connection?
This might be the situation for a couple of reasons.
- Your situational awareness can be impacted negatively by untreated hearing loss. Anything from a stubbed toe to a car accident will be more likely to occur if you aren’t aware of your surroundings. Of course, you could wind up in the hospital due to this.
- Your potential of readmission considerably increases once you’re in the hospital. 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 happen that lead to this readmission. In other instances, readmission might be the outcome of a new issue, or because the initial issue wasn’t addressed correctly.
Increased chances of readmission
Why is readmission more likely for people who have neglected hearing loss? There are a couple of reasons for this:
- If you have neglected hearing loss, you may not be able to hear the instructions that your doctors and nurses give you. 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. Whether you’re still in the hospital or at home, your recovery duration could be greatly increased.
- If you’re unable to hear your recovery instructions, you won’t know how to care for yourself as you recover at home. 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.
For instance, let’s say you’ve recently undergone knee replacement surgery. Your surgeon might 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 severe infection.
Keeping track of your hearing aids
The answer might seem straight-forward at first glimpse: just wear your hearing aids! Regrettably, hearing loss often develops very gradually, and those with hearing loss might not always recognize they are experiencing symptoms. Coming in to see us for a hearing test is the solution here.
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 possibility of losing your hearing aid is definitely present. You will be better able to stay 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 visit when you have hearing loss
If you’re dealing with hearing loss and you’re going in for a hospital stay, many of the headaches and discomfort can be avoided by knowing how to prepare. Here are a number of basic things you can do:
- Don’t forget your case. Having a case for your hearing aid is very important. They will be able to be better taken care of that way.
- Communicate to hospital staff about your hearing loss. The more educated you are about your hearing loss, the less chance there is for a miscommunication to occur.
- Use your hearing aids whenever you can, and when you aren’t using them, make sure to keep them in the case.
- Be mindful of your battery power. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if necessary.
- In a hospital environment, always advocate for yourself and ask your family to advocate for you.
Communication with the hospital at every stage is key here. Be sure you’re telling your nurses and physicians about your hearing loss.
Hearing is a health concern
It’s important to realize that your hearing health and your general health are closely related. After all your general health can be substantially impacted by your hearing. Hearing loss is like any other health issue in that it needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
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.