Hearing Loss Patients At Higher Risk Of Hospital Readmission

Hearing Loss Patients At Higher Risk Of Hospital Readmission

In Hearing Health, Hearing Loss, Research by Dr. Robert Hooper Au.D.

We do our best to take care of ourselves so we can enjoy good health for years to come but despite our efforts, we all get sick sometimes. When we’re sick, in the best-case scenario we put all our effort into resting, healing, and recovery. However, it’s a busy world and can feel stressful at times. It’s hard to take the time to heal when it feels like we have so many demands balancing work and home life. We’d all love to spend time enjoying the things we love and feel inspired by, but healing takes time – it can be more of a challenge when we struggle with hearing.

In cases where illness leads to hospitalization, new studies show that hospital patients with hearing loss are readmitted at a higher rate than other patients with normal hearing. Alarmingly, the average rate of readmission for patients who also have hearing loss is within 30 days of their release from the hospital. This new information can be just one more reason to act around your hearing loss. 

Studies on Hospital Readmission

A study led by researchers from New York University conducted an extensive review of data based on a national survey. The researchers found that discharged hospital patients who reported issues communicating with their doctors had a 32% chance of readmission within the next month. These troubles with communication are often attributed to hearing issues, as they can make it harder to hear instructions from your doctor and communicate your concerns around health. 

Hearing Loss is Often Misunderstood and Underestimated

Perhaps most alarming is that addressing hearing loss was not a strategy used in hospitals and other medical environments for reducing readmission rates. Hearing loss has been historically underestimated as a major health concern. This has allowed insurance companies to require people to pay out of pocket for hearing care despite its important role in your overall health. 

The Dangers of Hearing Loss

Misunderstood as just issues hearing, hearing loss can cause communication issues causing rifts in relationships with loved ones and at work. In the workplace, it can cause a loss of earnings including missed promotions, raises, and advancements. At home, poor communication can lead to chronic depression, anxiety, sleep problems, loneliness, and social isolation. As we know depression has a way of affecting overall health leading to higher blood pressure and other comorbidities such as diabetes and heart disease. In addition, the hearing loss leaves spaces in words in sentences, causing our brains to work overtime to fill in the blanks. This can cause cognitive strain, exhaustion from even a minor social interaction, and an increased risk of dementia. Hearing loss also can increase the risk of falls and accidents which can increase the chances of ending up in the hospital in the first place.

Issues with Communication as We Age

One of the study’s authors, Jan Bluestein explains that hospitals are often noisy chaotic places where communication becomes challenging. This is particularly true for people with hearing loss. As we age, we find that we must take better care of our health than we may have when we were younger. Hearing health is no exception. The risk of hearing loss increases significantly once we reach 60 years. Hearing loss affects about one in three people between the ages of 65 and 74, and nearly half of the population over 75, according to the National Institutes of Health. It’s important to monitor our hearing health at least every 3 years once we reach the age of 60 to detect a hearing loss before it can progress to a place where it can contribute to other health concerns. 

The study included 4,436 participants all of which were 65 years old and older who were hospitalized between 2010 and 2013. Approximately 12% self-reported that they had hearing difficulties which presented challenges in communicating with doctors and medical staff. Bluestein believes that by raising awareness around the high prevalence of hearing loss among seniors with medical staff and educating them on how to communicate with people with hearing difficulties, the quality and success of recovery in seniors with hearing loss could increase significantly.

Seeking Treatment for Hearing Loss

Hearing loss, if left untreated, could affect many different areas of our lives. However, by treating it older adults have a greater chance of staying alert and being able to receive and follow medical advice. To schedule a hearing appointment, contact us today.