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Most people are aware of the known causes of hearing loss but don’t recognize the risks that commonplace chemicals pose to their hearing. There is an increased exposure risk for people who work in metal fabrication, automotive-plastics, petroleum, and textiles. Knowing what these hazardous chemicals are and what safeguards you should take could help preserve your quality of life.

Why Are Certain Chemicals Detrimental to Your Hearing?

Something that has a toxic impact on the nerves of the ears or the ears themselves is known as ototoxic. Some chemicals are ototoxic, and people can be exposed to these chemicals at work or at home. These chemicals can be absorbed by inhalation, through the skin, or by ingestion. These chemicals, once they get into the body, will travel into the ear, affecting the delicate nerves. The resultant hearing loss might be temporary or long-term, and the impact is worse when noise exposure is also at high levels.

Five kinds of chemicals that can be harmful to your hearing have been confirmed by OSHA or the Occupation Safety and Health Administration:

  • Pharmaceuticals – Hearing can be damaged by medications like antibiotics, diuretics, and analgesics. Speak with your primary physician and your hearing health specialist about any dangers posed by your medications.
  • Nitriles – Things like latex gloves, super glue, and rubber automotive seals contain nitriles such as acrylonitrile and 3-Butenenitrile. Although your hearing can be harmed by these nitrile based chemicals, they have the benefit of repelling water.
  • Solvents – Solvents, like styrene and carbon disulfide, are used in select industries like insulation and plastics. If you work in these industries, speak with your workplace safety officer about how much exposure you may have, and use all of your safety equipment.
  • Metals and Compounds – Hearing loss can be triggered by metals like lead and mercury which also have other adverse health effects. These metals are frequently found in the furniture and metal fabrication industries.
  • Asphyxiants – Things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke contain asphyxiants which lowered the level of oxygen in the air. Vehicles, stoves, gas tools, and other appliances might produce harmful levels of these chemicals.

If You Are Subjected to These Ototoxic Chemicals, What Can You do?

Taking precautions is the trick to safeguarding your hearing. Consult your employer about exposure levels to these chemicals if you work in the construction, plastics, pesticide spraying, automotive, or fire-fighting fields. If your workplace provides safety equipment like protective masks, gloves, or garments, use them.

Make sure you follow all of the instructions on the labels of your medications before you take them. When you are using any chemicals, if you don’t understand the label, ask for help, and use correct ventilation. Take added precautions if you are exposed to noise at the same time as chemicals as the two can have a cumulative effect on your hearing. Try to nip any potential problem in the bud by having a routine hearing exam if you are on medications or if you can’t avoid chemicals. The numerous causes of hearing loss are well understood by hearing specialists so make an appointment for a hearing exam in order to prevent further damage.

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