Tom is excited, he’s getting a new knee! Look, as you age, the kinds of things you look forward to change. His knee replacement means he will experience less pain and be able to get around a lot better. So the surgery is a success and Tom heads home.
But that’s not 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 require another surgery. Tom is not as psyched by this point. The doctors and nurses have come to the realization that Tom wasn’t adhering to their advice and guidelines for recovery.
Tom didn’t purposely deviate from the guidelines. The problem 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 link between hospital visits and hearing loss.
More hospital visits can be the outcome of hearing loss
The typical drawbacks of hearing loss are something that most individuals are already acquainted with: you have the tendency to socially isolate yourself, causing you to become more distant from friends and loved ones, and you increase your danger of developing dementia. But we’re finally beginning to understand some of the less evident disadvantages to hearing loss.
Increased emergency room visits is one of those relationships that’s becoming more clear. Individuals who suffer from untreated hearing loss have a higher risk of taking a trip to the emergency room by 17% and will be 44% more likely to have to be readmitted later on, according to one study.
Is there a connection?
This could be the case for a couple of reasons.
- Once you’re in the hospital, your potential of readmission increases substantially. But when you’re released and go home for a time but then need to go back to the hospital, readmission happens. Sometimes this takes place because a complication occurs. Readmission can also happen because the initial issue wasn’t properly managed or even from a new problem.
- Untreated hearing loss can negatively affect your situational awareness. If you aren’t aware of your surroundings, you might be more likely to have a car accident or stub your toe. These sorts of injuries can, obviously, land you in the hospital (if you stub your toe hard enough).
Risk of readmission is increased
So why are individuals with neglected hearing loss more likely to be readmitted to the hospital? This happens for a couple of reasons:
- When your doctors and nurses give you instructions you may not hear them very well because of your neglected hearing loss. For example, if you can’t understand what your physical therapist is telling you to do, you will be unable to do your physical therapy treatment as well as you otherwise might. Whether you’re still in the hospital or at home, your recovery duration 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 especially if you don’t know 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. Your surgeon might tell you not to shower for the next 3 weeks, but you hear 3 days instead. Now your wound is in danger of getting a severe infection (one that could put you back at the hospital).
Keeping track of your hearing aids
At first glance, the answer here may seem simple: just use your hearing aids! Regrettably, hearing loss usually advances 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. It’s frequently a chaotic scene when you have to go in for a hospital stay. Which means there’s lots of potential of losing your hearing aids. You will be better able to remain involved in your care when you’re in the hospital if you know how to handle your hearing aid.
Tips for prepping for a hospital visit when you have hearing loss
Knowing how to prepare for a hospital stay when you’re dealing with hearing loss can prevent lots of headaches (and other discomfort) in the future. Here are a number of basic things you can do:
- Don’t forget your case. It’s very important to use a case for your hearing aids. They will be able to be better taken care of that way.
- Whenever you can, wear your hearing aids, and when you aren’t wearing them, make certain to keep them in the case.
- Encourage your loved ones to advocate for you. You should always be advocating for yourself in a hospital setting.
- Communicate to hospital staff about your hearing loss. The more educated you are about your hearing loss, the less likelihood there is for a miscommunication to occur.
- Keep your eye on your battery’s charge. Bring spares if you need them and charge your hearing aids when you can.
Communication with the hospital at every phase is the trick here. Make sure you’re telling your nurses and physicians about your hearing loss.
Hearing loss can cause health issues
It’s important to realize that your hearing health and your overall health are closely linked. After all your general health can be significantly impacted by your hearing. In many ways, hearing loss is the same as a broken arm, in that each of these health issues calls for prompt treatment in order to avoid possible complications.
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 nearby.