Tom is excited, he’s getting a brand new knee! Look, as you age, the types of things you look forward to change. He will be able to move moving around more easily and will have less pain with this knee replacement. So Tom goes in, the operation is a success, and Tom goes home!
But that isn’t the end of it.
Sadly, the healing process doesn’t go as it should. Tom ends up back in the hospital with an infection and will require another surgery. It’s getting less exciting for Tom by the minute. As the nurses and doctors attempt to determine what happened, it becomes evident that Tom wasn’t following his recovery instructions.
So here’s the thing: it isn’t that Tom didn’t want to follow those recovery instructions. 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 link between hearing loss and hospital visits.
More hospital visits can be the result of hearing loss
By now, you’re probably familiar with the common disadvantages of hearing loss: you tend to socially separate yourself, causing you to become more removed from friends and loved ones, and you increase your danger of developing cognitive decline. But we’re finally starting to understand some of the less evident disadvantages to hearing loss.
Increased emergency room visits is one of those relationships that’s becoming more apparent. One study revealed that individuals with hearing loss have a 17% higher danger of requiring a visit to the emergency room and a 44% increased risk of readmission later.
What’s the link?
There are a couple of reasons why this could be.
- Untreated hearing loss can negatively affect your situational awareness. Anything from a stubbed toe to a car accident will be more likely to happen if you’re not aware of what’s around you. Obviously, you could wind up in the hospital because of this.
- Your potential of readmission substantially increases once you’re in the hospital. But when you’re released and go home for a time but then have to go back to the hospital, readmission occurs. Complications sometimes happen that lead to this readmission. Readmission can also happen because the initial problem wasn’t correctly managed or even from a new issue.
Chances of readmission increases
So why are people with untreated hearing loss more likely to be readmitted to the hospital? This happens for a couple of reasons:
- 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 effectively do your physical therapy, for instance, if you fail to hear the guidelines from your physical therapist. This can lead to a longer recovery time while you’re in the hospital as well as a longer recovery once you’re discharged.
- If you’re unable to hear your recovery directions, you won’t know how to take care of yourself as you continue recovering at home. If you’re unable to 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 shower for the next 3 weeks, but you hear 3 days instead. Now your wound is in danger of developing a serious infection (one that could land you back at the hospital).
Keeping track of your hearing aids
At first glimpse, the answer here might seem basic: just wear your hearing aids! Regrettably, hearing loss often advances very gradually, and people with hearing loss may not always realize they are feeling its effects. The solution here is to make an appointment for a hearing exam with us.
Even if you do have a set of hearing aids (and you should), there’s another situation: 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 prepping for a hospital stay when you have hearing loss
Knowing how to prepare for a hospital stay when you have hearing loss can avert a lot of headaches (and other discomfort) in the future. Here are a few basic things you can do:
- Communicate to hospital staff about your hearing loss. Miscommunication will be less likely if they are well informed about your situation.
- Whenever you can, use your hearing aids, and put them in their case when you aren’t using them.
- Encourage your loved ones to advocate for you. You should always be advocating for yourself in a hospital setting.
- Be aware of your battery power. Bring spares if you need them and charge your hearing aids when you can.
- Don’t forget to bring your case. It’s very important to have a case for your hearing aids. They will be able to be better cared for that way.
Communication with the hospital at every phase is the trick here. Be sure you’re telling your nurses and physicians about your hearing loss.
Hearing is a health concern
It’s important to recognize that your hearing health and your general health are closely linked. After all, your hearing can have a substantial affect on your general health. In a lot of ways, hearing loss is no different than a broken arm, in that each of these health issues calls for prompt treatment in order to avoid possible complications.
The ability to avoid Tom’s fate is in your hands. Keep your hearing aids close the next time you have to go in for a hospital stay.