Most people know about the common causes of hearing loss, but some chemicals can also lead to hearing loss which can come as a surprise. Groups that are at risk include automotive workers, plastics, textiles, metal fabrication, and petroleum. Being aware of what these harmful chemicals are and what safeguards you should take can help preserve your quality of life.
Your hearing could be damaged by certain chemicals
The word “ototoxic” means that something is toxic to either the ears themselves or the nerves in the ears that help with hearing. People can be exposed to chemicals that are “ototoxic” at home or in the workplace. They could absorb these chemicals through the skin, inhale, or ingest them. These chemicals can make their way to the sensitive nerves of the ears once they enter the body. Noise exposure will increase the negative impact, whether permanent or temporary, of ototoxic hearing loss.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, defined five kinds of chemicals that can be harmful to hearing:
- Solvents – Specific industries such as plastics and insulation utilize solvents like styrene and carbon disulfide in manufacturing. If you work in these fields, talk to your workplace safety officer about the level of exposure you may have, and use all of your safety equipment.
- Nitriles – Nitriles like 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are utilized in producing products including automotive rubber and seals, super glue, and latex gloves. Nitrile-based products can be useful because they help repel water, but exposure can harm your hearing.
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants reduce the quantity of oxygen in the air and consist of things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Vehicles, gas tools, stoves, and other appliances could put out harmful levels of these chemicals.
- Pharmaceuticals – Your hearing can be harmed by medications that contain antibiotics, analgesics, and diuretics. You can determine if any medications you might be using pose any hazards to your hearing by talking with your physician and your hearing specialist.
- Metals and compounds – Metals including lead and mercury can result in hearing loss in addition to the harm they can do to other parts of the body. Individuals may frequently be exposed to these metals if they’re in the furniture or metal fabrication industries.
What can you do if you’re exposed to ototoxic chemicals?
The ideal way to safeguard your hearing from chemical exposure is to take key precautions. If you work in an industry like automotive, firefighting, plastics, pesticide spraying, or construction, ask your employer about exposure levels to these chemicals. Any safety equipment that is available to you, like gloves, masks, or garments, make use of all of it.
When you are at home, read all safety labels on products and adhere to the instructions to the letter. Use proper ventilation, including opening windows, staying away from any chemicals, and asking for help if you are unable to decipher any of the labels. Loud noise and chemicals can have a cumulative effect on your hearing so if you find yourself in this type of scenario, use extra precautions. If you can’t avoid chemicals or are on medications, make sure you have regular hearing examinations so you can try to nip any problems in the bud. We are experienced in addressing the numerous causes of hearing loss and can help you formulate a plan to prevent further damage.