Man spraying his lawn with ototoxic chemicals that harm his hearing.

Many people are informed about the known causes of hearing loss but don’t comprehend the hazards that everyday chemicals present to their hearing. There is an increased exposure risk for people who work in metal fabrication, automotive-plastics, petroleum, and textiles. Knowing what these hazardous chemicals are and what measures you should take might help maintain your quality of life.

Why Are Certain Chemicals Detrimental to Your Hearing?

Something that has a toxic effect on the nerves of the ears or the ears themselves is known as ototoxic. At work or at home, people can be exposed to ototoxic chemicals. These chemicals can be absorbed by ingestion, inhalation, or through the skin. These chemicals, once they get into the body, will travel into the ear, affecting the delicate nerves. The resulting hearing loss could be temporary or permanent, 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 confirmed by OSHA or the Occupation Safety and Health Administration:

  • Pharmaceuticals – Drugs including diuretics, antibiotics, and analgesics can cause damage to your hearing. Consult your regular physician and your hearing health specialist about any hazards presented by your medications.
  • Nitriles – Things like super glue, latex gloves, and rubber automotive seals contain nitriles like acrylonitrile and 3-Butenenitrile. Even though your hearing can be harmed by these nitrile based chemicals, they have the advantage of repelling water.
  • Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants reduce the amount of oxygen in the air, and include things like tobacco smoke and carbon monoxide. Vehicles, stoves, gas tools, and other appliances may put out dangerous levels of these chemicals.
  • Solvents – Solvents, such as carbon disulfide and styrene, are used in certain industries like plastics and insulation. Be certain that if you work in one of these industries, you use all of your safety equipment and consult your workplace safety officer about how much you are exposed.
  • Metals and Compounds – Metals including lead and mercury have other harmful effects on the body, but they can also cause hearing loss. These metals are commonly found in the furniture and metal fabrication industries.

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

The key to safeguarding your hearing from chemical exposure is to take precautions. If you work in an industry including plastics, automotive, fire-fighting, pesticide spraying, or construction, ask your employer about levels of exposure to these chemicals. Be sure you use every safety material your job provides, like protective garment, gloves, and masks.

When you’re at home, read all safety labels on products and follow the instructions to the letter. Use correct ventilation, including opening windows, and staying away from any chemicals or asking for assistance if you can’t understand any of the labels. Chemicals and noise can have a cumulative impact on your hearing, so if you are around both at the same time, take extra precautions. Try to nip any potential problem in the bud by having a routine hearing exam if you are on medications or if you can’t avoid chemicals. Hearing specialists have experience with the numerous causes of hearing loss and can help you figure out a plan to prevent further damage.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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