Tom is getting a brand new knee and he’s super pumped! Hey, the things you look forward to change as you get older. His knee replacement means he will feel less pain and be able to get around a lot better. So the operation is a success and Tom goes home.
That’s when things take a turn.
The knee doesn’t heal properly. An infection sets in, and Tom ends up back in the hospital for another knee surgery. Tom isn’t as excited by this point. The doctors and nurses have come to the conclusion that Tom wasn’t following their advice and instructions for recovery.
So here’s the thing: it’s not that Tom didn’t want to follow those recovery instructions. The problem is that he didn’t hear them. Tom can feel a little better in the fact that he isn’t alone: there’s a solid link between hospital visits and hearing loss.
More hospital visits can be the outcome of hearing loss
By now, you’re likely acquainted with the typical drawbacks of hearing loss: you grow more distant from your loved ones, you raise your risk of social separation, and have an increased danger of getting cognitive decline. But we’re finally beginning to comprehend some of the less obvious drawbacks to hearing loss.
Increased emergency room trips is one of those relationships that’s becoming more apparent. One study found that people with hearing loss have a 17% higher risk of needing a trip to the emergency room and a 44% higher chance of readmission later.
Is there a link?
There are a couple of reasons why this might be.
- 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 end up in the hospital due to this.
- Your possibility of readmission considerably increases once you’re in the hospital. Readmission happens when you’re released from the hospital, spend some time at home, and then have to go back to the hospital. Complications sometimes occur that lead to this readmission. In other cases, readmission may be the outcome of a new issue, or because the original problem wasn’t addressed correctly.
Risk of readmission increases
Why is readmission more likely for individuals who have untreated hearing loss? There are a couple of reasons for this:
- If you have neglected hearing loss, you might not be able to hear the instructions that your doctors and nurses give you. You won’t be able to effectively do your physical therapy, for instance, if you fail to hear the guidelines 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 out.
- If you’re unable to hear your recovery instructions, you won’t know how to take care of yourself as you continue recovering at home. You have an increased likelihood of reinjuring yourself if you don’t even know that you didn’t hear the instructions.
Let’s say, for example, you’ve recently had surgery to replace your knee. Your surgeon may tell you not to 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 solution here might seem simple: you just need to wear your hearing aids! Sadly, in the early phases of hearing loss, it often goes undetected because of how slowly it advances. 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 complication: you could lose them. It’s often a chaotic scene when you need to go in for a hospital stay. So the possibility of losing your hearing aid is absolutely present. 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 prepping for a hospital stay when you have hearing loss
Knowing how to get ready for a hospital stay when you have hearing loss can prevent lots of headaches (and other discomfort) in the future. There are some easy things you can do:
- Don’t forget to bring 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. Miscommunication will be less likely if they are well informed about your situation.
- In a hospital setting, you should always advocate for yourself and ask your loved ones to advocate for you.
- Keep your eye on your battery’s charge. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if necessary.
- Whenever you can, use your hearing aids, and when you aren’t using them, make sure to keep them in the case.
Communication with the hospital at every phase is key here. Be sure you’re telling your nurses and doctors about your hearing loss.
Hearing is a health concern
It’s important to acknowledge that your hearing health and your general health are closely related. After all your overall health can be significantly impacted by your hearing. In a lot of 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.
You don’t have to be like Tom. The next time you find yourself in the hospital, make sure your hearing aids are nearby.