Tom is thrilled, he’s getting a new knee! Look, as you age, the kinds of things you look forward to change. He will be able to move moving around more freely and will experience less pain with this knee replacement. So the surgery is successful 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 require another surgery. Tom isn’t as excited by this point. The doctors and nurses have come to the conclusion that Tom wasn’t adhering to their advice and instructions for recovery.
Tom didn’t purposely ignore the 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 connection between hearing loss and hospital visits.
Hearing loss can result in more hospital visits
By now, 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 family, and you raise your danger of developing dementia. But there can be added, less apparent drawbacks to hearing loss, too, some of which we’re just starting to actually understand.
One of those relationships that’s becoming more evident is that hearing loss can lead to an increase in emergency room visits. Individuals who suffer from untreated hearing loss have a greater risk of taking a trip to the emergency room by 17% and will be 44% more likely to need to be readmitted later on, according to one study.
What’s the connection?
This could be the case for a couple of reasons.
- Your situational awareness can be affected negatively by untreated hearing loss. Anything from a stubbed toe to a car accident will be more likely to take place if you aren’t aware of what’s around you. Obviously, you could end up in the hospital because of this.
- Your possibility of readmission significantly increases once you’re in the hospital. Readmission occurs when you’re discharged from the hospital, spend some time at home, and then need to go back to the hospital. Sometimes this happens because a complication occurs. In other instances, readmission may be the outcome of a new issue, or because the initial problem wasn’t addressed correctly.
Increased chances of readmission
Why is readmission more likely for individuals who have untreated hearing loss? This happens for a couple of reasons:
- If you have untreated hearing loss, you might not be able to hear the instructions that your doctors and nurses give you. For example, if you can’t understand what your physical therapist is telling you to do, you will be unable to do your physical therapy treatment as well as you otherwise would. This can result in a longer recovery time while you’re in the hospital and also 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. 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 example, let’s say you’ve recently had knee replacement surgery. Your surgeon might 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 put you back at the hospital).
Keeping track of your hearing aids
The solution may seem simple at first glance: just use your hearing aids! Unfortunately, hearing loss usually develops very gradually, and individuals with hearing loss may not always realize 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. It’s frequently a chaotic scene when you have to go in for a hospital stay. Which means there’s a lot of potential of losing your hearing aids. You will be better able to stay engaged in your care when you’re in the hospital if you know how to deal with your hearing aid.
Tips for getting prepared for a hospital visit when you have hearing loss
If you have hearing loss and you’re going in for a hospital stay, a lot of the headaches and discomfort can be avoided by knowing how to prepare. There are some simple things you can do:
- Whenever you can, wear your hearing aids, and when you aren’t using them, make certain to keep them in the case.
- Don’t forget to bring your case. It’s very important to have a case for your hearing aids. This will make them a lot easier to keep track of.
- Keep your eye on your battery’s charge. Bring spares if you need them and charge your hearing aids when you can.
- Communicate to hospital staff about your hearing loss. The more informed you are about your hearing loss, the less chance there is for a miscommunication to occur.
- In a hospital setting, you should always advocate for yourself and ask your loved ones to advocate for you.
Communication with the hospital at every stage is key here. Your doctors and nurses should be told 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.
You don’t have to be like Tom. Keep your hearing aids close the next time you have to go in for a hospital stay.