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Man spraying his lawn with ototoxic chemicals that harm his hearing.

Many people are informed about the common causes of hearing loss but don’t comprehend the hazards that everyday chemicals present to their hearing. While there are numerous groups of people at risk, those in industries like textiles, petroleum, automotive, plastics, and metal fabrication have greater exposure. Your quality of life can be enhanced by knowing what these chemicals are and how to be protected.

Some Chemicals Are Harmful to Your Hearing. Why?

Something that has a toxic effect on the nerves of the ears or the ears themselves is known as ototoxic. At home or in the workplace, individuals can come in contact with ototoxic chemicals. These chemicals can be absorbed by ingestion, inhalation, or through the skin. Once these chemicals are in the body, they can travel to the sensitive nerves and other portions of the ear. The effect is even worse when it comes with high levels of noise exposure, causing temporary or long-term hearing loss.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, discovered five types of chemicals which can be hazardous to your hearing:

  • Pharmaceuticals – Drugs including diuretics, antibiotics, and analgesics can cause damage to your hearing. Talk to your regular doctor and your hearing health specialist about any hazards posed by your medications.
  • Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants decrease the amount of oxygen in the air, and include things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Vehicles, stoves, gas tools, and other appliances could produce harmful levels of these chemicals.
  • Nitriles – Nitriles including 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are used to make products such as super glue, automotive rubber and seals, and latex gloves. Nitrile-based products can be advantageous because they help repel water, but exposure can harm your hearing.
  • Metals and Compounds – Hearing loss can be triggered by metals like mercury and lead which also have other negative health effects. These metals are typically found in the furniture and metal fabrication industries.
  • Solvents – Solvents, like styrene and carbon disulfide, are used in certain industries like insulation and plastics. If you work in these fields, talk to your workplace safety officer about the level of exposure you may have, and wear all of your safety equipment.

What Should You do if You’re subjected to Ototoxic Chemicals?

Taking precautions is the key to protecting your hearing. If you work in a sector including automotive, fire-fighting, plastics, pesticide spraying, or construction, ask your employer about exposure levels to these chemicals. Make certain you utilize every safety material your job supplies, like protective garment, gloves, and masks.

When you are home, read all safety labels on products and follow the instructions to the letter. When you are using any chemicals, if your not sure about what the label means, ask for help, and use proper ventilation. Take additional precautions if you are around noise at the same time as chemicals as the two can have a cumulative impact on your hearing. If you can’t avoid chemicals or are taking medications, make sure you have regular hearing tests so you can try to get ahead of any problems. The various causes of hearing loss are well understood by hearing specialists so make an appointment for a hearing exam in order to stop further damage.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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