Evanston Audiology - Evanston, IL

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 super pumped! Look, as you age, the types of things you get excited about change. His knee replacement means he will experience less pain and be able to get out and about a lot better. So the surgery is a success and Tom goes home.

That’s when things take a turn.

The knee doesn’t heal as well as it should. Tom finds himself back in the hospital with an infection and will need another surgery. It’s becoming less exciting for Tom by the minute. As the nurses and doctors try to figure out what took place, it becomes clear that Tom wasn’t adhering to his recovery guidelines.

Tom didn’t purposely deviate from the guidelines. The problem is that he never heard them. Tom can take some comfort in the fact that he isn’t by himself: there’s a strong link between hearing loss and hospital visits.

Hearing loss can result in more hospital visits

The typical drawbacks of hearing loss are something that most people are already acquainted with: you become more withdrawn from your loved ones, you raise your risk of social separation, and have an increased risk of developing cognitive decline. But we’re finally beginning 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 visits. One study revealed that people with hearing loss have a 17% greater danger of requiring a trip to the emergency room and a 44% increased chance of readmission later on.

What’s the link?

There are a couple of reasons why this might be.

  • Once you’re in the hospital, your chance of readmission goes up significantly. But when you’re released and go home for a time but then have to go back to the hospital, readmission occurs. Sometimes this takes place because a complication occurs. Readmission can also happen because the initial issue wasn’t correctly managed or even from a new problem.
  • 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’re not aware of what’s around you. These sorts of injuries can, of course, land you in the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).

Increased chances of readmission

Why is readmission more likely for individuals who have untreated hearing loss? This happens for a couple of reasons:

  • When your nurses and doctors give you guidelines you might not hear them very well because of your untreated hearing loss. You won’t be able to effectively do your physical therapy, for example, if you fail to hear the instructions from your physical therapist. This can result in a longer recovery time while you’re in the hospital and also a longer recovery once you’re discharged.
  • If you can’t hear your recovery directions, you won’t know how to take care of yourself as you recover at home. If you’re unable to hear the instructions (and particularly if you’re not aware that you aren’t hearing your instructions properly), you’re more likely to reinjure yourself.

For example, let’s say you’ve recently undergone knee replacement surgery. Maybe you’re not supposed to take a shower for three weeks but you thought your doctor said three days. Now your wound is in danger of getting a serious infection (one that could put you back at the hospital).

Keeping track of your hearing aids

The answer may seem simple at first glance: just wear your hearing aids! Regrettably, hearing loss often progresses very gradually, and individuals with hearing loss might not always realize 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 set 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 a lot of potential to lose your hearing aids. Knowing how to handle hearing aids during a hospital stay can help you remain involved in your care.

Tips for prepping for a hospital visit when you have hearing loss

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:

  • Be aware of your battery power. Bring spares if you need them and charge your hearing aids when you can.
  • Urge your loved ones to advocate for you. You should always be advocating for yourself in a hospital setting.
  • Wear your hearing aids whenever you can, and when you aren’t using them, make sure to keep them in the case.
  • Take your case with you. It’s very important to have a case for your hearing aids. They will be able to be better taken care of that way.
  • 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.

Communication with the hospital at every stage is key here. Your doctors and nurses need to be made aware of your hearing loss.

Hearing loss can cause health issues

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 issue in that it needs to be treated as soon as possible.

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

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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