Tom is thrilled, he’s getting a brand new knee! Look, as you grow older, the kinds of things you look forward to change. His knee replacement means he will suffer from less pain and be able to get out and about a lot better. So the surgery is successful and Tom goes home.
That’s when things take a turn.
Sadly, the healing process doesn’t go very well. An infection takes hold, and Tom winds up back in the hospital for another knee surgery. Tom is not as psyched by this point. As the nurses and doctors try to figure out what happened, it becomes evident that Tom wasn’t following his recovery guidelines.
Tom didn’t purposely ignore the instructions. The problem is that he didn’t hear them. It turns out that there is a strong connection between hospital visits and hearing loss, so Tom isn’t by himself.
More hospital visits can be the outcome of hearing loss
By now, you’re likely acquainted with the common disadvantages of hearing loss: you have the tendency to socially separate yourself, causing you to become more removed from friends and loved ones, and you increase your danger of developing dementia. But we’re finally starting to comprehend some of the less obvious drawbacks to hearing loss.
One of those relationships that’s becoming more apparent is that hearing loss can result in an increase in emergency room visits. One study discovered that people with hearing loss have a 17% greater risk of requiring a trip to the emergency room and a 44% increased risk of readmission later.
Is there a link?
This might be the situation for a couple of reasons.
- Once you’re in the hospital, your likelihood of readmission increases considerably. But when you’re released and go home for a time but then have to go back to the hospital, readmission occurs. Complications sometimes happen that result in this readmission. Readmission can also happen because the initial issue wasn’t correctly managed or even from a new issue.
- Untreated hearing loss can negatively affect your situational awareness. If you aren’t aware of your surroundings, you might be more likely to get into 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).
Increased risk of readmission
So why are people with untreated hearing loss more likely to be readmitted to the hospital? This occurs for a couple of reasons:
- If you have untreated hearing loss, you might not be able to hear the instructions that your nurses and doctors 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. 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 instructions, you won’t know how to care for yourself as you continue recovering 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 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. And you might find yourself back in the hospital with a severe infection.
Keeping track of your hearing aids
At first glance, the answer here might seem basic: you just need to wear your hearing aids! Sadly, in the early phases of hearing loss, it frequently goes undetected because of how slowly it progresses. 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 situation: you could lose them. It’s often a chaotic scene when you need to go in for a hospital stay. Which means there’s a lot of potential of losing your hearing aids. Knowing how to deal with hearing aids during a hospital stay can help you remain engaged in your care.
Tips for preparing 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 prevented by knowing how to prepare. Here are a few basic things you can do:
- Wear your hearing aids when you can, and when you aren’t wearing them, make certain to keep them in the case.
- Keep your eye on your battery’s charge. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if needed.
- Bring your case with you. Having a case for your hearing aid is very important. They will be able to be better cared for that way.
- Make sure that the hospital staff is aware of your hearing loss. The more informed you are about your hearing loss, the less chance there is for a miscommunication to occur.
- Urge your loved ones to advocate on your behalf. You should always be advocating on your own behalf in a hospital setting.
Communication with the hospital at every phase is the trick here. Your doctors and nurses should be made aware of your hearing loss.
Hearing loss can cause health problems
So maybe it’s time to stop thinking of hearing health and your overall wellness as two completely different things. After all, your hearing can have a substantial affect on your overall health. In many ways, hearing loss is no different than a broken arm, in that each of these health issues calls for prompt treatment in order to avoid possible complications.
You don’t need to be like Tom. Keep your hearing aids close the next time you have to go in for a hospital stay.