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 knowing what these chemicals are and what precautions to take.
Your hearing could be damaged by certain chemicals
The word “ototoxic” means that something has a toxic effect on either the ears themselves or the nerves inside of the ears that help us hear. Certain chemicals are ototoxic, and people can be exposed to these chemicals in the workplace or at home. They could absorb these chemicals through the skin, breathe, or ingest them. Once these chemicals get into the body, they can travel to the delicate nerves and other parts of the ear. Noise exposure will increase the negative effects, whether permanent or temporary, of ototoxic hearing loss.
Five types of chemicals that can harm your hearing were defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA:
- Solvents – Solvents, such as carbon disulfide and styrene, are used in certain industries like insulation and plastics. Use all of your safety equipment and speak with your workplace safety officer if you work in these sectors.
- Pharmaceuticals – Drugs, including antibiotics, diuretics, and analgesics can damage hearing. Consult your physician and your hearing health specialist about any dangers posed by your medications.
- Metals and compounds – Metals including lead and mercury can cause hearing loss in addition to the damage they can do to other parts of the body. People in the fabricated metal or furniture sectors might get exposed to these metals often.
- Asphyxiants – The amount of oxygen in the air is reduced by asphyxiants, including things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Vehicles, gas tools, stoves, and other appliances could put out harmful levels of these chemicals.
- Nitriles – Automotive rubber and seals, super glue and latex glove have nitriles such as acrylonitrile and butenenitrile. Nitrile-based products can be useful because they help repel water, but exposure can damage your hearing.
What should you do if you’re exposed to ototoxic chemicals?
Taking key precautions is the best way to safeguard your hearing from exposure to chemicals. Ask your employer about your degree of exposure to these chemicals if you work in the automotive, pesticide spraying, plastics, firefighting, or construction industries. Whatever safety equipment that is provided to you, including gloves, masks, or garments, use all of it.
When you are at home, go over all safety materials on products and adhere to the instructions to the letter. If you can, stay away from any chemicals, open up windows, use appropriate ventilation, and ask for help with any instructions you don’t understand. Loud noise and chemicals can have a cumulative impact on your hearing so if you find yourself in this type of situation, take 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 put together a plan to prevent further damage.