Tom is getting a brand new knee and he’s super pumped! Hey, the things you get excited about change as you age. He will be capable of moving around more easily and will experience less pain with his new knee. So Tom is admitted, the operation is successful, and Tom heads home!
But that’s not the end of it.
The knee doesn’t heal properly. Tom ends up back in the hospital with an infection and will need 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 guidelines for recovery.
So here’s the thing: it’s not that Tom didn’t want to observe those recovery guidelines. The issue is that he didn’t hear them. Tom can take some comfort in the fact that he’s not by himself: there’s a strong connection between hospital visits and hearing loss.
Hearing loss can result in more hospital visits
At this point, you’re likely acquainted with the common drawbacks of hearing loss: you have the tendency to socially isolate yourself, causing you to become more distant from friends and family, and you increase your danger of developing dementia. But we’re finally starting to comprehend some of the less apparent disadvantages to hearing loss.
One of those relationships that’s becoming more apparent is that hearing loss can lead to an increase in emergency room trips. People who struggle with untreated hearing loss have a greater danger of going to the emergency room by 17% and will be 44% more likely to need to be readmitted later on, as reported by one study.
What’s the link?
This could be the case for a couple of reasons.
- 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 occur if you’re not aware of what’s around you. These types of injuries can, obviously, send you to the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).
- Once you’re in the hospital, your likelihood of readmission goes up significantly. 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 might be the outcome of a new issue, or because the initial issue wasn’t addressed correctly.
Risk of readmission increases
Why is readmission more likely for people who have neglected hearing loss? 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 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 time could be greatly increased.
- If you can’t hear your recovery directions, you won’t know how to take care of yourself as you recover at home. If you can’t hear the instructions (and particularly if you don’t know you aren’t hearing your instructions properly), you’re more likely to reinjure yourself.
For instance, let’s pretend 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. And you could find yourself back in the hospital with a serious infection.
Keeping track of your hearing aids
The solution might seem straight-forward at first glance: just wear your hearing aids! Unfortunately, hearing loss often advances very slowly, and people with hearing loss may not always recognize they are feeling its effects. 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 could lose them. It’s often a chaotic scene when you have to go in for a hospital stay. So the possibility of losing your hearing aid is absolutely present. You will be better able to remain involved in your care when you’re in the hospital if you know how to deal with your hearing aid.
Tips for bringing your hearing aids with you during a hospital stay
If you have hearing loss and you’re going in for a hospital stay, many of the headaches and discomfort can be avoided by knowing how to prepare. Here are a number of basic things you can do:
- Make sure that the hospital staff is aware of your hearing loss. Miscommunication will be less likely if they are well notified about your situation.
- Bring your case with you. It’s really important to use a case for your hearing aids. This will make them a lot easier to keep track of.
- Be mindful of your battery power. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if needed.
- Encourage your loved ones to advocate on your behalf. You should always be advocating for yourself in a hospital setting.
- Wear your hearing aids whenever you can, and put them in their case when you’re not wearing them.
The key here is to communicate with the hospital at every stage. Your doctors and nurses should be told about your hearing loss.
Hearing is a health concern
So perhaps it’s time to stop thinking of hearing health and your overall wellness as two totally different things. After all your general health can be significantly impacted by your hearing. Hearing loss is like any other health issue in that it needs to be addressed right away.
The ability to avoid Tom’s fate is in your hands. Keep your hearing aids close the next time you need to go in for a hospital stay.