Tom is getting a new knee and he’s super pumped! Look, as you get older, the types of things you get excited about change. His knee replacement means he will suffer from less pain and be able to get out and about a lot better. So Tom goes in, the operation is successful, and Tom goes home!
That’s when things take a turn.
Sadly, the healing process doesn’t go as it should. An infection sets in, and Tom winds up back in the hospital for another knee surgery. It’s becoming less thrilling for Tom by the minute. As the doctors and nurses attempt to figure out what took place, it becomes evident that Tom wasn’t adhering to his recovery guidelines.
Tom didn’t purposely deviate from the instructions. Tom actually never even heard the instructions. Tom can take some comfort in the fact that he isn’t alone: there’s a solid 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 individuals are already familiar with: you tend to socially isolate yourself, causing you to become more distant from friends and family, and you raise your danger of developing dementia. But we’re finally starting to understand some of the less evident drawbacks to hearing loss.
Increased emergency room visits is one of those relationships that’s becoming more evident. One study discovered that individuals with hearing loss have a 17% greater danger of needing a visit to the emergency room and a 44% increased chance of readmission later.
Is there a connection?
There are a couple of reasons why this might be.
- Your likelihood of readmission considerably increases once you’re in the hospital. But when you’re released and go home for a time but then need to go back to the hospital, readmission occurs. Complications sometimes occur that result in this readmission. Readmission can also occur because the original issue wasn’t correctly managed or even from a new issue.
- Your situational awareness can be impacted negatively by untreated hearing loss. If you’re not aware of your surroundings, you might be more likely to get into a car accident or stub your toe. These kinds of injuries can, obviously, land you in the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).
Risk of readmission is increased
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. For instance, if you can’t hear what your physical therapist is telling you to do, you won’t be able to perform your physical therapy treatment as well as you otherwise would. Whether you’re still in the hospital or at home, your recovery duration could be greatly increased.
- If you can’t hear your recovery instructions, you won’t know how to take care of yourself as you recover at home. If you can’t hear the instructions (and particularly if you don’t know you aren’t hearing your instructions properly), you’re more likely to reinjure yourself.
Let’s say, for instance, you’ve recently had surgery to replace your knee. Maybe you’re not supposed to shower for three weeks but you thought your doctor said three days. Now your wound is in danger of developing a severe infection (one that could land you back at the hospital).
Keeping track of your hearing aids
The answer might seem simple at first glimpse: just use your hearing aids! Sadly, in the early stages of hearing loss, it often goes unnoticed because of how slowly it advances. Coming in to see us for a hearing exam 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 frequently a chaotic scene when you need to go in for a hospital stay. So the probability of losing your hearing aid is absolutely present. Knowing how to handle hearing aids during a hospital stay can help you remain engaged in your care.
Tips for taking your hearing aids with you during a hospital stay
If you have hearing loss and you’re going in for a hospital stay, many of the headaches and discomfort can be avoided by knowing how to prepare. Here are a few basic 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.
- Be aware of your battery power. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if needed.
- Whenever you can, wear your hearing aids, and when you aren’t using them, make sure to keep them in the case.
- Encourage your loved ones to advocate for you. You should always be advocating on your own behalf in a hospital setting.
- Communicate to hospital staff about your hearing loss. Miscommunication will be less likely if they are well notified about your situation.
The key here is to communicate with the hospital at every stage. Make sure you’re telling your nurses and physicians about your hearing loss.
Hearing loss can cause health problems
It’s important to recognize that your hearing health and your overall health are closely linked. After all your overall health can be considerably impacted by your hearing. Hearing loss is like any other health issue in that it needs to be treated as soon as possible.
You don’t need to be like Tom. Keep your hearing aids close the next time you need to go in for a hospital stay.