Most people recognize the common causes of hearing loss, but some chemicals can also lead to hearing loss which can be surprising. Groups that are at risk include automotive workers, plastics, textiles, metal fabrication, and petroleum. You can safeguard your quality of life by being aware of what these chemicals are and what precautions to take.
Your hearing could be harmed by some chemicals
The ears themselves or the nerves of the ears can be toxically affected by anything that has an “ototoxic” effect. People can come in contact with chemicals that are “ototoxic” at home or in the workplace. They can absorb these chemicals through the skin, breathe, or ingest them. These chemicals can travel to the sensitive nerves of the ears once they enter the body. The resulting hearing loss might be temporary or permanent, and the effect is worse when noise exposure is also at high levels.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, identified five kinds of chemicals that can be hazardous to hearing:
- Solvents – Solvents, such as carbon disulfide and styrene, are employed in certain industries such as insulation and plastics. Use all of your safety equipment and talk to your workplace safety officer if you work in these industries.
- Nitriles – Automotive rubber and seals, super glue and latex glove have nitriles including acrylonitrile and butenenitrile. Because nitriles repel water, they are beneficial, but they can also result in hearing loss.
- Metals and compounds – Metals including lead and mercury can lead to hearing loss in addition to the harm they can do to other parts of the body. Individuals could regularly be exposed to these metals if they’re in the furniture or metal fabrication industries.
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants decrease the quantity of oxygen in the air and consist of things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Harmful levels of these chemicals are frequently produced by things like stoves, gas engines, and other appliances.
- Pharmaceuticals – Your hearing can be damaged by medications that contain antibiotics, analgesics, and diuretics. Consult your physician and your hearing health specialist about any dangers posed by your medications.
What can you do if you’re exposed to ototoxic chemicals?
Taking key precautions is the best way to protect your hearing from exposure to chemicals. If you work in an industry like automotive, firefighting, plastics, pesticide spraying, or construction, consult your employer about exposure levels to these chemicals. Make sure you use all safety equipment your job supplies, like protective gloves, garments, and masks.
Read and follow all of the safety instructions listed on product labels. Use appropriate ventilation, including opening windows, staying away from any chemicals, and asking for help if you can’t understand 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 situation, use extra precautions. Try to keep a step ahead of hearing loss by having regular hearing exams if you are taking any ototoxic medications or you can’t stay away from chemicals. We are experienced in addressing the numerous causes of hearing loss and can help you formulate a plan to prevent further damage.