Tom is thrilled, he’s getting a brand new knee! Look, as you grow older, the types of things you look forward to change. He will be able to move moving around more freely and will experience less pain with his new knee. So Tom is admitted, the operation is a success, and Tom heads home!
But that isn’t the end of it.
Regrettably, the healing process doesn’t go as it should. Tom finds himself back in the hospital with an infection and will need another surgery. Tom isn’t as psyched by this point. The nurses and doctors have come to the realization that Tom wasn’t adhering to their advice and guidelines for recovery.
So here’s the thing: it isn’t that Tom didn’t want to follow those recovery guidelines. The issue is that he never heard them. It just so happens that there is a solid link between hospital visits and hearing loss, so Tom isn’t by himself.
More hospital visits can be the outcome of hearing loss
By now, you’re probably acquainted with the common drawbacks of hearing loss: you become more distant from your loved ones, you raise your risk of social separation, and have an increased risk of developing cognitive decline. But we’re finally starting to understand some of the less evident disadvantages to hearing loss.
One of those relationships that’s becoming more clear is that hearing loss can lead to an increase in emergency room visits. One study found that individuals with hearing loss have a 17% greater danger of needing a trip to the emergency room and a 44% higher chance of readmission later.
What’s the link?
There are a couple of reasons why this could be.
- Your situational awareness can be affected negatively by neglected hearing loss. Anything from a stubbed toe to a car accident will be more likely to occur if you aren’t aware of your surroundings. Obviously, you could end up in the hospital due to this.
- Once you’re in the hospital, your chance of readmission increases considerably. Readmission happens when you are 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. Readmission can also happen because the initial issue wasn’t properly managed or even from a new problem.
Increased chances of readmission
Why is readmission more likely for individuals who have untreated hearing loss? There are a couple of reasons for this:
- If you have untreated hearing loss, you may not be able to hear the instructions that your nurses and doctors give you. You won’t be able to properly 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.
- Taking care of yourself after you get home will be practically impossible if you don’t hear the instructions. If you can’t hear the instructions (and particularly if you’re not aware that you aren’t hearing your instructions properly), you’re more likely to reinjure yourself.
Let’s say, for example, you’ve recently undergone surgery to replace your knee. Perhaps you’re not supposed to shower for three weeks but you thought your doctor said three days. And you might find yourself back in the hospital with a serious infection.
Keeping track of your hearing aids
The answer might seem straight-forward at first glimpse: you just need to use your hearing aids! Sadly, in the early stages of hearing loss, it frequently goes unnoticed because of how gradually it advances. Coming in to see us for a hearing exam is the solution here.
Even if you do have a set of hearing aids (and you should), there’s another complication: you might lose them. Hospital trips are often really chaotic. Which means there’s lots of potential to lose your hearing aids. Knowing how to handle hearing aids during a hospital stay can help you remain involved in your care.
Tips for preparing for a hospital stay when you have hearing loss
Knowing how to get ready for a hospital stay when you have hearing loss can avert lots of headaches (and other discomfort) in the future. There are some simple things you can do:
- Use your hearing aids when you can, and when you aren’t using them, make certain to keep them in the case.
- Keep your eye on your battery’s charge. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if necessary.
- Bring your case with you. It’s very important to have a case for your hearing aids. They will be able to be better taken care of that way.
- Make sure that the hospital staff is aware of your hearing loss. The more informed you are about your hearing loss, the less likelihood there is for a miscommunication to occur.
- In a hospital environment, always advocate for yourself and ask your loved ones to advocate for you.
The trick here is to communicate with the hospital at every phase. Make sure you’re telling your nurses and physicians about your hearing loss.
Hearing is a health issue
So perhaps it’s time to stop thinking of hearing health and your overall wellness as two completely different things. After all, your hearing can have a considerable impact on your general health. In many 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 certain your hearing aids are with you.