Tom is getting a new knee and he’s super pumped! Hey, the things you look forward to change as you get older. He will be capable of moving around more easily and will have less pain with this knee replacement. So the surgery is successful and Tom goes home.
But that’s not the end of it.
Sadly, the healing process doesn’t go very well. Tom finds himself back in the hospital with an infection and will need another surgery. Tom isn’t as excited by this point. The nurses and doctors have come to the realization that Tom wasn’t adhering to their advice and instructions for recovery.
So here’s the thing: it isn’t that Tom didn’t want to observe those recovery instructions. Tom actually never even heard the instructions. Tom can feel a little better in the fact that he isn’t by himself: there’s a strong link between hearing loss and hospital visits.
Hearing loss can contribute to more hospital visits
At this point, you’re probably familiar with the common disadvantages of hearing loss: you have the tendency to socially separate yourself, causing you to become more distant from friends and loved ones, and you increase your risk of developing cognitive decline. But there can be additional, less apparent disadvantages to hearing loss, too, some of which we’re just starting to really understand.
One of those relationships that’s becoming more clear is that hearing loss can lead to an increase in emergency room visits. People who struggle with neglected hearing loss have a greater danger of taking a trip to the emergency room by 17% and will be 44% more likely to have to be readmitted later on, as reported by one study.
Is there a link?
This might be the situation for a couple of reasons.
- Neglected hearing loss can negatively impact your situational awareness. If you aren’t aware of your surroundings, you may be more likely to have a car accident or stub your toe. These types of injuries can, of course, land you in the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).
- Your chance of readmission substantially increases once you’re in the hospital. Readmission happens when you are released from the hospital, spend some time at home, and then need to go back to the hospital. Sometimes this happens because a complication occurs. Readmission can also occur because the initial issue wasn’t correctly managed or even from a new issue.
Increased risk of readmission
So why are individuals with neglected hearing loss more likely to be readmitted to the hospital? There are a couple of reasons for this:
- If you have neglected hearing loss, you may 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 example, if you fail to hear the instructions from your physical therapist. Whether you’re still in the hospital or at home, your recovery period could be greatly increased.
- Caring for yourself after you get home will be nearly impossible if you don’t hear the guidelines. If you can’t 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 instance, let’s say you’ve recently had knee replacement surgery. Maybe you’re not supposed to take a shower for three weeks but you thought your doctor said three days. Now your wound is at risk of developing a serious infection (one that could land you back at the hospital).
Keeping track of your hearing aids
At first glimpse, the solution here may seem basic: you just need to wear your hearing aids! Unfortunately, hearing loss usually develops very gradually, and those with hearing loss may not always recognize they are experiencing symptoms. 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 complication: you could lose them. Hospital trips are usually really chaotic. 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 handle your hearing aid.
Tips for bringing your hearing aids with you during a hospital stay
Knowing how to prepare 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 number of basic things you can do:
- Be mindful of your battery power. Bring spares if you need them and charge your hearing aids when you can.
- Encourage your loved ones to advocate for you. You should always be advocating for yourself in a hospital setting.
- Use your hearing aids whenever you can, and when you aren’t wearing them, make sure to keep them in the case.
- Communicate to hospital staff about your hearing loss. The more informed you are about your hearing loss, the less likelihood there is for a miscommunication to occur.
- Take your case with you. Using a case for your hearing aid is very important. This will make them much easier to keep track of.
The key here is to communicate with the hospital at every phase. Be sure you’re telling your nurses and doctors about your hearing loss.
Hearing is a health concern
It’s important to realize that your hearing health and your overall health are closely linked. After all, your hearing can have a considerable impact on your overall health. Hearing loss is like any other health problem in that it needs to be treated as soon as possible.
The ability to avoid Tom’s fate is in your hands. The next time you find yourself in the hospital, be certain that your hearing aids are nearby.