Tom is thrilled, he’s getting a brand new knee! Hey, the things you get excited about change as you age. His knee replacement means he will feel less pain and be able to get around a lot better. So the surgery is successful and Tom heads home.
That’s when things take a turn.
The knee doesn’t heal as well as it should. Tom ends up back in the hospital with an infection and will need another surgery. It’s becoming less exciting for Tom by the minute. The doctors and nurses have come to the conclusion that Tom wasn’t adhering to their advice and guidelines for recovery.
So here’s the thing: it isn’t that Tom didn’t want to follow those recovery guidelines. The problem is that he didn’t hear them. Tom can take some comfort in the fact that he’s not by himself: there’s a strong connection between hearing loss and hospital visits.
More hospital visits can be the outcome of hearing loss
The typical disadvantages 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 removed from friends and loved ones, and you raise your danger of developing dementia. But we’re finally beginning to comprehend some of the less apparent drawbacks to hearing loss.
One of those relationships that’s becoming more clear is that hearing loss can result in an increase in emergency room visits. One study revealed that individuals with hearing loss have a 17% higher risk of needing a visit to the emergency room and a 44% higher risk of readmission later.
What’s the link?
This could be the case 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 might be more likely to have a car accident or stub your toe. Of course, you could wind up in the hospital because of this.
- Your likelihood of readmission substantially increases once you’re in the hospital. But when you’re discharged and go home for a time but then need to go back to the hospital, readmission occurs. Complications sometimes happen that lead to this readmission. In other cases, readmission might be the outcome of a new issue, or because the initial issue wasn’t properly addressed.
Increased chances of readmission
So why are those with untreated hearing loss more likely to be readmitted to the hospital? This happens for a couple of reasons:
- When your nurses and doctors give you instructions you might not hear them very well because of your untreated hearing loss. For example, if you can’t understand 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 would. This can lead to a longer recovery time while you’re in the hospital as well as a longer recovery once you’re out.
- If you’re unable to hear your recovery instructions, you won’t know how to care for yourself as you continue recovering at home. If you can’t 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.
Let’s say, for example, you’ve recently undergone surgery to replace your knee. 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 in danger of getting a serious infection (one that could land you back at the hospital).
Keeping track of your hearing aids
The answer may seem straight-forward at first glimpse: just wear your hearing aids! Regrettably, hearing loss usually develops very slowly, and individuals with hearing loss might not always realize they are experiencing symptoms. Coming in to see us for a hearing exam is the solution here.
Even after you’ve taken the measures and invested in a pair of hearing aids, there’s still the possibility of losing them. It’s frequently a chaotic scene when you have to go in for a hospital stay. Which means there’s lots of potential of losing your hearing aids. You will be better able to remain involved in your care when you’re in the hospital if you know how to deal with your hearing aid.
Tips for bringing your hearing aids with you during a hospital stay
If you have hearing loss and you’re going in for a hospital stay, a lot of the headaches and discomfort can be prevented by knowing how to prepare. Here are a few basic things you can do:
- In a hospital environment, always advocate for yourself and ask your family to advocate for you.
- 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.
- Wear your hearing aids whenever you can, and put them in their case when you aren’t using them.
- 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.
- Keep your eye on your battery’s charge. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if needed.
The trick here is to communicate with the hospital at every phase. Your doctors and nurses should be told about your hearing loss.
Hearing is a health issue
It’s important to acknowledge that your hearing health and your overall health are closely related. After all, your hearing can have a considerable affect on your general health. In many ways, hearing loss is no different than a broken arm, in that each of these health problems calls for prompt treatment in order to prevent possible complications.
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.