Tom is getting a new knee and he’s super pumped! Look, as you get older, the types of things you look forward to change. His knee replacement means he will feel less pain and be able to get out and about a lot better. So the surgery is a success and Tom heads home.
But that’s not the end of it.
The knee doesn’t heal as well as it should. Tom ends up back in the hospital with an infection and will need another surgery. Tom is not as psyched by this point. As the doctors and nurses try to determine what took place, it becomes clear that Tom wasn’t following his recovery instructions.
Tom didn’t purposely ignore the guidelines. Tom actually never even heard the instructions. It just so happens that there is a solid link between hospital visits and hearing loss, so Tom isn’t alone.
More hospital visits can be the consequence of hearing loss
At this point, you’re likely acquainted with the typical drawbacks of hearing loss: you grow more withdrawn from your loved ones, you raise your risk of social solitude, and have an increased risk of developing dementia. But there can be additional, less apparent disadvantages to hearing loss, too, some of which we’re just beginning to truly understand.
Increased emergency room trips is one of those relationships that’s becoming more apparent. Individuals 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, according to one study.
What’s the link?
This could be the case for a couple of reasons.
- Your situational awareness can be impacted negatively by untreated hearing loss. If you aren’t aware of your surroundings, you may be more likely to get into a car accident or stub your toe. These kinds of injuries can, of course, send you to the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).
- Once you’re in the hospital, your possibility of readmission increases considerably. But when you’re released and go home for a time but then need to go back to the hospital, readmission occurs. Sometimes this happens because a complication occurs. Readmission can also occur because the original issue wasn’t properly managed or even from a new problem.
Risk of readmission increases
So why are people with untreated hearing loss more likely to be readmitted to the hospital? 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 instance, if you fail to hear the guidelines from your physical therapist. Whether you’re still in the hospital or at home, your recovery period could be greatly increased.
- Caring for yourself after you get home will be nearly impossible if you don’t hear the guidelines. 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.
For instance, let’s say you’ve recently undergone knee replacement surgery. Your surgeon may tell you not to take a shower for the next 3 weeks, but you hear 3 days instead. And you might find yourself back in the hospital with a serious infection.
Keeping track of your hearing aids
At first glance, the solution here may seem simple: you just need to wear your hearing aids! Sadly, in the early stages of hearing loss, it often goes unnoticed because of how slowly it progresses. Coming in to see us for a hearing test is the solution here.
Even if you do have a pair of hearing aids (and you should), there’s another situation: you could lose them. Hospital trips are frequently really chaotic. Which means there’s lots of potential to lose your hearing aids. Knowing how to deal with hearing aids during a hospital stay can help you remain engaged in your care.
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, many of the headaches and discomfort can be avoided by knowing how to get yourself ready. Here are a few basic 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.
- Don’t forget to bring your case. Using a case for your hearing aid is very important. This will make them much easier to keep track of.
- Keep your eye on your battery’s charge. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if necessary.
- Urge your loved ones to advocate on your behalf. You should always be advocating for yourself in a hospital setting.
- Make sure that the hospital staff is aware of your hearing loss. The more informed you are about your hearing loss, the less chance there is for a miscommunication to occur.
The trick here is to communicate with the hospital at every phase. Your doctors and nurses need to be made aware of your hearing loss.
Hearing is a health concern
So maybe it’s time to stop thinking of hearing health and your overall wellness as two completely different things. After all your overall health can be significantly impacted by your hearing. Hearing loss is like any other health problem in that it needs to be addressed right away.
The power to avoid Tom’s fate is in your hands. The next time you find yourself in the hospital, make sure your hearing aids are with you.