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There are numerous commonly recognized causes of hearing loss, but not too many people recognize the hazards that some chemicals pose to their hearing. While there are several groups of people in danger, those in industries including textiles, petroleum, automotive, plastics, and metal fabrication have greater exposure. Realizing what these dangerous chemicals are and what precautions you should take might help preserve your quality of life.

Some Chemicals Are Detrimental to Your Hearing. Why?

Something that has a toxic impact on the nerves of the ears or the ears themselves is known as ototoxic. At work or at home, individuals can be exposed to ototoxic chemicals. These chemicals can be absorbed by inhalation, through the skin, or by ingestion. These chemicals, once they get into the body, will go into the ear, impacting the delicate nerves. The effect is even worse with high levels of noise exposure, causing temporary or permanent loss of hearing.

Five kinds of chemicals that can be hazardous to your hearing have been recognized 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 talked over with your doctor and your hearing care specialist.
  • Nitriles – Nitriles like 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are used to make products such as super glue, automotive rubber and seals, and latex gloves. Even though your hearing can be harmed by these nitrile based chemicals, they have the benefit of repelling water.
  • Solvents – Solvents, like carbon disulfide and styrene, are used in some industries like plastics and insulation. If you work in these industries, talk to your workplace safety officer about how much exposure you might have, and wear all of your safety equipment.
  • Metals and Compounds – Hearing loss can be caused by metals like lead and mercury which also have other adverse health effects. These metals are typically found in the metal fabrication and furniture industries.
  • Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants reduce the amount of oxygen in the air, and consist of things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Vehicles, gas tools, stoves, and other appliances may put out dangerous levels of these chemicals.

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

Taking precautions is the trick to safeguarding your hearing. If you work in an industry such as plastics, automotive, fire-fighting, pesticide spraying, or construction, ask your employer about levels of exposure to these chemicals. Make sure you make use of every safety material your job offers, including protective garment, gloves, and masks.

When you are home, read all safety labels on products and adhere to the instructions 100 percent. Use proper ventilation, including opening windows, and staying away from any chemicals or asking for help if you can’t understand any of the labels. Noise and chemicals can have a cumulative impact on your hearing, so if you are around both at the same time, take additional precautions. If you can’t steer clear of chemicals or are on medications, make sure you have routine hearing exams so you can try to get ahead of any problems. Hearing specialists have experience with the numerous causes of hearing loss and can help you come up with a plan to stop further damage.

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