Hearing Loss Patients at Higher Risk of Hospital Readmission

Jeff Baller, Au.D., CCC-A Hearing Health, Hearing Loss

Jeff Baller, Au.D., CCC-A
Latest posts by Jeff Baller, Au.D., CCC-A (see all)

Hearing loss is one of the most common medical conditions that people experience today. Affecting nearly 48 million people, hearing can be impaired by a range of factors including: existing medical conditions, exposure to loud noise, aging, and head injuries. A reduced ability to hear and process sound, hearing loss produces numerous symptoms that can significantly impact daily life. This includes strained communication, relationships, social life, and wellness. Untreated hearing loss can also increase the risk of developing other health conditions as well as experiencing injuries. Additionally, research shows that people with hearing loss are at higher risk of hospital readmission compared to people without hearing loss. 

Link Between Hearing Loss & Hospital Readmission

A 2018 study illuminates the correlation between hearing loss and hospital readmission. Published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, this critical study involved researchers at New York University (NYU) analyzing data from a nationally representative survey. This included 4,436 participants who were 65 and older. All of the participants were hospitalized at least one time between 2010 – 2013. Researchers examined this data and found that people who reported experiencing communication difficulties with their doctors were 32% more likely to return to the hospital within 30 days. 

Researchers suggest that this significant increased risk of hospital readmission among patients with hearing loss can be attributed to a few factors. Hospitals are often louder and active environments. There is typically a lot of movement, conversations, and sounds coexisting so it can be particularly challenging for people with hearing loss to navigate. Absorbing and understanding speech in a noisier context can be difficult. Also, hearing loss is associated with other health issues that can lead to hospital readmission. 

Researchers also note that hospitals often overlook the prevalence of hearing loss among patients. This means that their approach to care does not include effective communication strategies that would allow patients to better process and understand important information. As Jan Bluestein, NYU researcher, stated: “Attending to hearing loss is a strategy that hospitals really have not tried, and if they tried it they might be able to reduce the risk of readmission for a significant portion of their patients”. 

Hearing Aids Improve Health Care

Communication is essential for quality medical care. Being able to effectively communicate, discuss, and understand all things related to your health is critical. Hearing aids, the most common treatment for hearing loss, strengthen communication which can drastically improve overall health and healthcare. These devices are designed to absorb, amplify, and process sound which provide ample support that maximizes hearing capacity. Hearing aids offer countless benefits: enhances hearing, improves relationships, enriches social life, boosts confidence and independence, and strengthens communication. 

Additionally, research also shows that hearing aids improve health as well as health care. In a 2018 study published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, researchers investigated the relationship between hearing aid use and health care (hospitalizations, emergency room visits). Researchers analyzed data from a nationally representative survey that included 1336 participants, ages 65 and older, who all had hearing loss. They found that the participants who wear hearing aids are less likely to be hospitalized or to visit the emergency room compared to the participants who have hearing loss and do not wear hearing aids. This highlights the key role that communication plays in receiving effective health care. Additionally, this study illuminates the importance of addressing and treating hearing loss. 

Treating Hearing Loss

The first step of treating hearing loss is simple: schedule an appointment for a hearing test. Hearing tests involve a comprehensive process that measures hearing capacity in both ears. This painless and noninvasive testing identifies any impairment, the degree, and specific type of hearing loss you are experiencing. Once your hearing needs are established, your hearing healthcare provider is able to recommend effective treatment options to meet those needs. Hearing aids transform hearing health by providing seamless support that helps people hear more clearly and communicate effectively. Like most electron devices today, hearing aids have experienced significant innovation. There is a wide range of options that have various features and technologies that enhance connectivity, sound quality, and overall hearing; helping people navigate daily life with greater ease!