Tom is getting a new knee and he’s really jazzed! Hey, the things you look forward to change as you age. He will be capable of moving around more freely and will experience less pain with his new knee. So the surgery is a success and Tom heads home.
But that isn’t the end of it.
The knee doesn’t heal as well as it should. 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 following their advice and instructions for recovery.
Tom didn’t purposely ignore the guidelines. Tom actually never even heard the instructions. 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 consequence of hearing loss
The typical drawbacks of hearing loss are something that most individuals are already acquainted with: 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 drawbacks to hearing loss, too, some of which we’re just starting to really understand.
One of those relationships that’s becoming more evident is that hearing loss can result in an increase in emergency room trips. People who struggle with untreated hearing loss have a greater danger of taking a trip to the emergency room by 17% and will be 44% more likely to need to be readmitted later, according to one study.
What’s the connection?
There are a couple of reasons why this might be.
- Your situational awareness can be impacted negatively by neglected hearing loss. Anything from a stubbed toe to a car accident will be more likely to happen if you’re not aware of your surroundings. Obviously, you could end up in the hospital because of this.
- Your possibility of readmission significantly 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 happen that lead to this readmission. In other instances, readmission may be the outcome of a new problem, or because the original issue wasn’t properly addressed.
Risk of readmission is increased
So why are individuals with untreated hearing loss more likely to be readmitted to the hospital? There are a couple of reasons for this:
- When your nurses and doctors give you instructions you may 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 will be unable to perform your physical therapy treatment as well as you otherwise might. This can lead to a longer recovery time while you’re in the hospital as well as a longer recovery once you’re discharged.
- Caring for yourself after you get home will be practically impossible if you don’t hear the guidelines. You have an increased chance of reinjuring yourself if you’re not even aware that you didn’t hear the instructions.
For example, let’s pretend you’ve recently undergone knee replacement surgery. Perhaps you’re not supposed to shower for three weeks but you thought your doctor said three days. Now your wound is in danger of getting a serious infection (one that could put you back at the hospital).
Keeping track of your hearing aids
At first glimpse, the solution here might seem basic: just wear your hearing aids! Sadly, in the early stages of hearing loss, it frequently goes unnoticed because of how gradually it progresses. 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 chance you may lose them. It’s often a chaotic scene when you have to go in for a hospital stay. So the probability of losing your hearing aid is definitely present. Knowing how to deal with 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
Knowing how to prepare for a hospital stay when you have hearing loss can prevent a lot of headaches (and other discomfort) in the future. There are some simple things you can do:
- Communicate to hospital staff about your hearing loss. The more educated you are about your hearing loss, the less chance there is for a miscommunication to occur.
- Don’t forget to bring your case. Having a case for your hearing aid is very important. They will be able to be better cared for that way.
- Keep your eye on your battery’s charge. Bring spares if you need them and charge your hearing aids when you can.
- Wear your hearing aids whenever you can, and when you aren’t wearing them, make sure to keep them in the case.
- In a hospital environment, you should always advocate for yourself and ask your family to advocate for you.
Communication with the hospital at every phase is key here. Your doctors and nurses need to be told about your hearing loss.
Hearing loss can cause health problems
It’s important to realize that your hearing health and your overall health are closely related. After all, your hearing can have a substantial impact on your general health. In a lot of ways, hearing loss is the same as a broken arm, in that each of these health problems requires 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.