Most people are aware of the known causes of hearing loss but don’t realize the risks that everyday chemicals pose to their hearing. While there are numerous groups of people in danger, those in industries including textiles, petroleum, automotive, plastics, and metal fabrication have increased exposure. Your quality of life can be enhanced by realizing what these chemicals are and how to protect yourself.
Select Chemicals Are Detrimental to Your Hearing. Why?
The word “ototoxic” means that something has a toxic effect 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 ingestion, inhalation, or through the skin. These chemicals, once they’re absorbed into the body, will travel into the ear, affecting the delicate nerves. The ensuing hearing loss might be temporary or long-term, and the effect is worse when noise exposure is also at high levels.
Five kinds of chemicals that can be harmful to your hearing have been defined by OSHA or the Occupation Safety and Health Administration:
- Pharmaceuticals – Hearing can be damaged by drugs like antibiotics, diuretics, and analgesics. Any questions about medication that you might be taking should be discussed with your doctor and your hearing care specialist.
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants decrease the amount of oxygen in the air, and consist of things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Unsafe levels of these chemicals can be produced by vehicles, gas tools, stoves and other appliances.
- Metals and Compounds – Metals like lead and mercury have other adverse effects on the body, but they can also trigger hearing loss. People in the metal fabrication or furniture industries could get exposed to these metals regularly.
- Nitriles – Nitriles like 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are used in making products such as automotive rubber and seals, super glue, and latex gloves. Nitrile-based products can be beneficial because they help repel water, but exposure can damage your hearing.
- Solvents – Solvents, including carbon disulfide and styrene, are used in select industries like insulation and plastics. If you work in these fields, speak with your workplace safety officer about how much exposure you might have, and use all of your safety equipment.
If You Are Exposed to These Ototoxic Chemicals, What Can You do?
Taking precautions is the trick to safeguarding your hearing. Consult your employer about levels of exposure to these chemicals if you work in the pesticide spraying, construction, plastics, automotive, or fire-fighting industries. Be sure you utilize every safety material your job offers, such as protective gloves, garments, and masks.
Make sure you follow all of the instructions on the labels of your medications before you use them. When you are using any chemicals, if your not sure about what the label means, get help, and use proper ventilation. Take added precautions if you are around noise at the same time as chemicals because the two can have a cumulative effect on your hearing. If you can’t steer clear of chemicals or are on medications, be certain you have regular hearing exams so you can try to nip any problems in the bud. Hearing specialists are experienced in dealing with the numerous causes of hearing loss and can help you put together a plan to prevent further damage.