Did you know that people with hearing loss can experience a higher risk of being readmitted into the hospital? Nearly 1 in 8 people live with some degree of hearing loss which is a chronic medical condition that reduces capacity to hear and process speech as well as sound. This can have multifaceted effects on health and everyday life including increasing health risks as well as hospital readmission. These increased risks lead to greater healthcare costs in addition to ramifications for overall health and wellness.

Link Between Hearing Loss and Hospital Readmission 

Studies show that there is a link between hearing loss and increased risk for hospital readmission. The following studies examine this link and reveal that people with hearing loss can be much more likely to experience hospital readmission.

  • New York University Study: researchers at NYU investigated this link by assessing data provided by the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey. A total of 4,436 people (ages 65 and older) were identified as experiencing challenges with communication with healthcare providers due to hearing loss. This was compared to people who did not report communication difficulties with healthcare professionals. Researchers found that people with hearing loss were 32% more likely to be readmitted within 30 days.
  • Johns Hopkins University Study: this study involved collecting and assessing the healthcare claims of 77,000 people with symptoms of untreated hearing loss. After analyzing this data provided from a nation-wide healthcare database, researchers found that patients with hearing loss were 44% more likely to be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days compared to patients without hearing loss over a 10 year period.

This data shows that hearing loss can significantly increase the risk of hospital readmission. Not only does this impact healthcare but it also increases healthcare costs. The Johns Hopkins University study revealed that over 10 years, the total cost associated with hospital readmission for people with hearing loss was $22,434 for each patient.

Impact of Hearing Loss on Communication 

To understand how hearing loss can lead to hospital readmission, it is important to know more about the impact hearing loss has on communication. Hearing loss is a condition that reduces a person’s capacity to hear and process speech as well as sound. This produces a range of symptoms that take a toll on communication including – tinnitus (a buzzing or ringing noise in the ears), sounds are slurred or muffled, difficulty processing sounds that are high or low pitched etc. These symptoms make it tough to readily hear and participate in a conversation with ease. Hearing loss also requires the brain to work harder in trying to process and make sense of sound signals which can lead to listening fatigue.

The cumulative experience of these symptoms can strain communication. Hospital settings can especially be difficult to hear in. These environments usually have more background noise and various activities happening simultaneously which can be distracting and also make it hard to hear in. This can cause patients to not completely hear everything their healthcare provider is saying and if the provider is unaware of the patient’s hearing loss, this makes it even tougher to navigate conversations. This can lead to miscommunication, not fully hearing or understanding instructions, missing next steps etc. And these factors contribute to increased risk of hospital readmission.

Treating Hearing Loss 

Treating hearing loss is an important way to prevent hospital readmission. Fortunately, there are effective ways that hearing loss is treated. The first step is to have your hearing assessed by a hearing healthcare specialist. Hearing tests involve a painless and noninvasive process that measures hearing abilities in both ears. This identifies any hearing loss and the degree of impairment in each ear (which can differ). Once hearing needs are established, your hearing healthcare provider is able to tailor treatment to meet your needs.

Hearing loss is commonly treated with hearing aids which are electronic devices designed to help the ears and brain process speech and sound. With this significant support, hearing capacity is maximized and hearing symptoms are alleviated. This offers countless benefits including strengthening communication, improving relationships, and supporting overall health in numerous ways. This includes reducing the risk of hospital readmission as people are better able to navigate communication with greater support, confidence, and ease.

Contact us today to learn more and to schedule an appointment for a hearing consultation!