Tom is thrilled, he’s getting a new knee! Look, as you age, the types of things you get excited about 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 successful, and Tom goes home!
But that’s not the end of it.
Regrettably, the healing process doesn’t go as it should. Tom ends up 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 realization that Tom wasn’t following their advice and guidelines for recovery.
So here’s the thing: it’s not that Tom didn’t want to follow those recovery instructions. The problem is that he never heard them. Tom can feel a little better in the fact that he isn’t alone: there’s a solid link between hearing loss and hospital visits.
More hospital visits can be the consequence of hearing loss
By now, you’re probably acquainted with the common disadvantages of hearing loss: you grow more withdrawn from your loved ones, you raise your risk of social separation, and have an increased risk of getting dementia. But there can be additional, less obvious drawbacks to hearing loss, too, some of which we’re just starting to really understand.
Increased emergency room trips is one of those relationships that’s becoming more clear. People who struggle with neglected 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 link?
This might be the case for a couple of reasons.
- Untreated hearing loss can negatively impact your situational awareness. If you aren’t aware of your surroundings, you may be more likely to get into a car accident or stub your toe. Obviously, you could end up in the hospital due to this.
- Once you’re in the hospital, your possibility of readmission increases significantly. Readmission happens when you are discharged from the hospital, spend some time at home, and then need to go back to the hospital. Complications sometimes occur that result in this readmission. Readmission can also happen because the initial issue wasn’t properly managed or even from a new issue.
Chances of readmission increases
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 might not be able to hear the instructions that your nurses and doctors give you. For instance, if you can’t understand what your physical therapist is telling you to do, you won’t be able to do your physical therapy treatment as well as you otherwise might. Whether you’re still in the hospital or at home, your recovery time could be greatly increased.
- If you can’t hear your recovery instructions, you won’t know how to care for yourself as you continue recovering at home. You have an increased chance of reinjuring yourself if you don’t even know that you didn’t hear the instructions.
Let’s say, for example, you’ve recently had surgery to replace your knee. 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 severe infection (one that could land you back at the hospital).
Keeping track of your hearing aids
The answer may seem simple at first glimpse: you just need to wear your hearing aids! Sadly, in the early stages of hearing loss, it often goes unnoticed because of how gradually it develops. Coming in to see us for a hearing test is the solution here.
Even if you do have a set of hearing aids (and you should), there’s another complication: you could lose them. It’s often a chaotic scene when you need to go in for a hospital stay. So the possibility of losing your hearing aid is absolutely present. You will be better able to stay 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
If you’re dealing with hearing loss and you’re going in for a hospital stay, many of the headaches and discomfort can be prevented by knowing how to prepare. There are some simple things you can do:
- Whenever you can, use your hearing aids, and when you aren’t wearing them, make certain to keep them in the case.
- Encourage your loved ones to advocate on your behalf. You should always be advocating for yourself in a hospital setting.
- Take your case with you. Having a case for your hearing aid is very important. This will make them much easier to keep track of.
- Be mindful of your battery power. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if necessary.
- Make sure that the hospital staff is aware of your hearing loss. Miscommunication will be less likely if they are well informed about your situation.
Communication with the hospital at every stage is key here. Be sure you’re telling your nurses and physicians about your hearing loss.
Hearing is a health issue
It’s important to understand that your hearing health and your general health are closely linked. After all, your hearing can have a substantial affect 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. The next time you find yourself in the hospital, make sure your hearing aids are nearby.