Tom is getting a brand new knee and he’s really jazzed! Look, as you age, the kinds 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 a success, and Tom heads home!
That’s when things take a turn.
The knee doesn’t heal properly. An infection takes hold, and Tom ends up back in the hospital for another knee surgery. It’s becoming less thrilling for Tom by the minute. As the nurses and doctors attempt to determine what took place, it becomes clear that Tom wasn’t adhering to his recovery guidelines.
Tom didn’t purposely ignore the guidelines. The problem is that he didn’t hear them. It just so happens that there is a strong link between hospital visits and hearing loss, so Tom isn’t by himself.
Hearing loss can lead to more hospital visits
By now, you’re probably acquainted with the typical disadvantages of hearing loss: you grow more distant from your loved ones, you raise your risk of social solitude, and have an increased danger of developing dementia. But we’re finally starting to comprehend some of the less obvious disadvantages to hearing loss.
Increased emergency room trips is one of those relationships that’s becoming more clear. Individuals who suffer from untreated hearing loss have a higher danger of going to the emergency room by 17% and will be 44% more likely to need to be readmitted later, according to one study.
What’s the link?
There are a couple of reasons why this might be.
- Your possibility of readmission significantly increases once you’re in the hospital. Readmission occurs when you’re released from the hospital, spend some time at home, and then have to go back to the hospital. Sometimes this happens because a complication occurs. In other cases, readmission might be the outcome of a new problem, or because the initial problem wasn’t addressed correctly.
- Your situational awareness can be impacted negatively by untreated hearing loss. If you’re not aware of your surroundings, you might be more likely to get into a car accident or stub your toe. These types of injuries can, obviously, send you to the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).
Risk of readmission increases
So why are individuals with neglected hearing loss more likely to be readmitted to the hospital? This happens for a couple of reasons:
- If you have untreated hearing loss, you may not be able to hear the instructions that your nurses and doctors give you. For example, if you can’t hear 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. Whether you’re still in the hospital or at home, your recovery period 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. If you can’t hear the instructions (and especially if you’re not aware that 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. Maybe 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 severe infection.
Keeping track of your hearing aids
At first glance, the answer here may seem basic: just use your hearing aids! Regrettably, hearing loss often progresses very gradually, and people with hearing loss might not always realize they are experiencing symptoms. Coming in to see us for a hearing test is the solution here.
Even after you’ve taken the measures and invested in a pair of hearing aids, there’s still the possibility of losing them. Hospital trips are usually very chaotic. 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 prepping for a hospital stay when you have hearing loss
If you’re dealing with hearing loss and you’re going in for a hospital stay, a lot of the headaches and discomfort can be prevented by knowing how to prepare. Here are a number of basic things you can do:
- Don’t forget your case. Using a case for your hearing aid is very important. They will be able to be better cared for that way.
- Be aware of your battery power. Keep your hearing aid charged and bring spares if needed.
- Communicate to hospital staff about your hearing loss. The more educated you are about your hearing loss, the less chance there is for a miscommunication to happen.
- In a hospital environment, you should always advocate for yourself and ask your loved ones to advocate for you.
- Whenever you can, use your hearing aids, and when you aren’t using them, make certain to keep them in the case.
Communication with the hospital at every stage is key here. Be certain that you’re telling your nurses and physicians about your hearing loss.
Hearing loss can cause health problems
It’s important to realize that your hearing health and your overall health are closely related. After all your general health can be substantially impacted by your hearing. Hearing loss is like any other health issue in that it needs to be treated right away.
The power 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.