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Most people are familiar with the known causes of hearing loss but don’t comprehend the risks that everyday chemicals present to their hearing. While there are several groups of people at risk, those in industries such as textiles, petroleum, automotive, plastics, and metal fabrication have greater exposure. Your quality of life can be improved by realizing what these chemicals are and how to be protected.

Why Are Certain Chemicals Harmful 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 individuals can be exposed to these chemicals at work or at home. They may absorb these chemicals through the skin, ingest, or inhale them. Once these chemicals are in the body, they can impact the delicate nerves and other parts of the ear. The ensuing hearing loss could 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 identified by OSHA or the Occupation Safety and Health Administration:

  • Pharmaceuticals – Hearing can be damaged by medications like antibiotics, diuretics, and analgesics. Any questions about medication that you might be taking should be reviewed with your doctor and your hearing care specialist.
  • Asphyxiants – Things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke contain asphyxiants which decrease the amount of oxygen in the air. Vehicles, stoves, gas tools, and other appliances may produce dangerous levels of these chemicals.
  • Nitriles – Things like super glue, latex gloves, and rubber automotive seals contain nitriles such as acrylonitrile and 3-Butenenitrile. Nitrile-based products can be practical because they help repel water, but exposure can damage your hearing.
  • Solvents – Solvents, like carbon disulfide and styrene, are used in some industries like plastics and insulation. If you work in these fields, talk to your workplace safety officer about how much exposure you might have, and use all of your safety equipment.
  • Metals and Compounds – Metals such as mercury and lead have other adverse effects on the body, but they can also lead to hearing loss. People in the fabricated metal or furniture industries could be exposed to these metals regularly.

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

Taking precautions is the key to safeguarding your hearing. If you work in a sector such as plastics, automotive, fire-fighting, pesticide spraying, or construction, consult your employer about levels of exposure to these chemicals. Make sure you use every safety material your job supplies, like protective garment, gloves, and masks.

When you are home, read all safety labels on products and adhere to the instructions 100 percent. When you are using any chemicals, if you don’t understand the label, get help, and use proper ventilation. Take additional precautions if you are exposed to noise at the same time as chemicals because the two can have a cumulative impact on your hearing. If you can’t avoid chemicals or are taking medications, be certain you have routine hearing exams so you can try to get ahead of any problems. The various causes of hearing loss are well known to hearing specialists so schedule an appointment for a hearing test in order to prevent further damage.

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