Tom is excited, he’s getting a new knee! Look, as you get older, the kinds of things you get excited about change. He will be able to move moving around more easily and will experience less pain with his new knee. So Tom goes in, the operation is a success, and Tom goes home!
That’s when things take a turn.
The knee doesn’t heal properly. Tom finds himself back in the hospital with an infection and will require another surgery. It’s getting less thrilling for Tom by the minute. The nurses and doctors have come to the realization that Tom wasn’t following their advice and guidelines for recovery.
Tom didn’t purposely ignore the guidelines. The problem is that he didn’t hear them. Tom can take some comfort in the fact that he isn’t by himself: there’s a solid connection between hospital visits and hearing loss.
More hospital visits can be the result of hearing loss
By now, you’re most likely acquainted with the common disadvantages of hearing loss: you become more withdrawn from your loved ones, you increase your risk of social separation, and have an increased danger of developing cognitive decline. But there can be added, less apparent drawbacks to hearing loss, too, some of which we’re just beginning to actually understand.
Increased emergency room visits is one of those relationships that’s becoming more apparent. One study found that people with hearing loss have a 17% greater danger of needing a visit to the emergency room and a 44% higher chance of readmission later on.
What’s the connection?
This could be the situation for a couple of reasons.
- Your situational awareness can be affected negatively by neglected hearing loss. If you’re not aware of your surroundings, you may be more likely to have a car accident or stub your toe. These sorts of injuries can, of course, send you to the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).
- Your likelihood of readmission considerably increases once you’re in the hospital. But when you’re discharged and go home for a time but then have to go back to the hospital, readmission happens. Sometimes this takes place because a complication occurs. In other instances, readmission may be the outcome of a new problem, or because the original issue wasn’t properly addressed.
Chances of readmission is increased
Why is readmission more likely for people who have untreated hearing loss? This occurs for a couple of reasons:
- When your doctors and nurses give you instructions you may not hear them very well because of your neglected 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 period while you’re in the hospital and also a longer recovery once you’re discharged.
- If you’re unable to hear your recovery instructions, you won’t know how to take care of yourself as you recover at home. If you’re unable to hear the instructions (and especially 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 had knee replacement surgery. Your surgeon may tell you not to take a shower for the next 3 weeks, but you hear 3 days instead. Now your wound is at risk of developing a severe infection (one that could put you back at the hospital).
Keeping track of your hearing aids
At first glimpse, the solution here might seem simple: just use your hearing aids! Unfortunately, hearing loss often advances very gradually, and those with hearing loss may not always realize 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 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 of losing your hearing aids. You will be better able to stay engaged in your care when you’re in the hospital if you know how to handle your hearing aid.
Tips for preparing for a hospital visit when you have hearing loss
Knowing how to get ready for a hospital stay when you’re dealing with hearing loss can prevent a lot of headaches (and other discomfort) in the future. Here are a few basic things you can do:
- Make sure that the hospital staff is aware of your hearing loss. Miscommunication will be less likely if they are well informed about your situation.
- Whenever you can, use your hearing aids, and keep them in their case when you aren’t using them.
- In a hospital setting, you should always advocate for yourself and ask your loved ones to advocate for you.
- Take your case with you. It’s really important to use a case for your hearing aids. This will make them much easier to keep track of.
- 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 loss can cause health issues
So maybe it’s time to stop thinking of hearing health and your general wellness as two totally different things. After all, your hearing can have a considerable affect on your general health. Hearing loss is like any other health issue in that it needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
You don’t need to be like Tom. The next time you find yourself in the hospital, make certain your hearing aids are nearby.