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Many people are informed about the known causes of hearing loss but don’t recognize the dangers that commonplace chemicals pose to their hearing. There is an greater exposure risk for people who work in metal fabrication, automotive-plastics, petroleum, and textiles. Your quality of life can be enhanced by knowing what these chemicals are and how to protect yourself.

Why Are Certain Chemicals Harmful to Your Hearing?

The term “ototoxic” means that something has a toxic impact on either the ears themselves or the nerves inside of the ears which help us hear. Specific chemicals are ototoxic, and individuals can be exposed to these chemicals at work or at home. These chemicals can be absorbed by inhalation, through the skin, or by ingestion. Once these chemicals get into 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 permanent hearing loss.

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

  • Pharmaceuticals – Drugs such as diuretics, antibiotics, and analgesics can damage hearing. Speak with your primary physician and your hearing health specialist about any dangers posed by your medications.
  • Metals and Compounds – Metals including lead and mercury have other negative effects on the body, but they can also cause hearing loss. People in the fabricated metal or furniture industries may be exposed to these metals regularly.
  • Solvents – Solvents, including carbon disulfide and styrene, are used in some industries like insulation and plastics. If you work in these fields, talk to your workplace safety officer about how much exposure you may have, and use all of your safety equipment.
  • Asphyxiants – Things like tobacco smoke and carbon monoxide contain asphyxiants which decreased the amount of oxygen in the air. Vehicles, gas tools, stoves, and other appliances might put out dangerous levels of these chemicals.
  • Nitriles – Things like latex gloves, super glue, and rubber automotive seals contain nitriles including acrylonitrile and 3-Butenenitrile. Nitrile-based products can be practical because they help repel water, but exposure can damage your hearing.

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

The solution to protecting your hearing from exposure to chemicals is to take precautions. Ask your employer about levels of exposure 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.

Be certain you follow all of the instructions on the labels of your medications before you use them. Use correct ventilation, including opening windows, and staying away from any chemicals or asking for assistance if you can’t decipher any of the labels. Take extra precautions if you are exposed to noise at the same time as chemicals as the two can have a cumulative effect on your hearing. If you can’t stay away from chemicals or are taking medications, be certain you have regular hearing tests so you can try to get ahead of any problems. The various causes of hearing loss are well known to hearing specialists so set up an appointment for a hearing test in order to stop further damage.

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