There are lots of well known causes of hearing loss, but not many people recognize the dangers that some chemicals present to their hearing. Groups that are at risk include automotive workers, plastics, textiles, metal fabrication, and petroleum. You can safeguard your quality of life by being aware of what these chemicals are and what precautions to take.
Certain chemicals could be hazardous to your hearing
The ears themselves or the nerves inside of the ears can be toxically impacted by anything that has an “ototoxic” effect. Certain chemicals are ototoxic, and people can be exposed to these chemicals at home and in the workplace. They could absorb these chemicals through the skin, breathe, or ingest them. These chemicals can travel to the delicate nerves of the ears once they get into the body. Noise exposure will multiply the negative effects, whether permanent or temporary, of ototoxic hearing loss.
Five kinds of chemicals that can damage your hearing were recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA:
- Asphyxiants – The level of oxygen in the air is decreased by asphyxiants, that includes things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Harmful levels of these chemicals are often put out by things like stoves, gas engines, and other appliances.
- Nitriles – Automotive rubber and seals, super glue and latex glove contain nitriles including acrylonitrile and butenenitrile. Because nitriles repel water, they are beneficial, but they can also cause hearing loss.
- Metals and compounds – Metals such as mercury and lead have other harmful effects on the body, but they can also trigger hearing loss. Individuals could frequently be exposed to these metals if they’re in the furniture or metal fabrication industries.
- Solvents – Certain industries such as plastics and insulation utilize solvents like styrene and carbon disulfide in manufacturing. If you work in these fields, talk to your workplace safety officer about the level of exposure you may have, and wear all of your safety equipment.
- Pharmaceuticals – Your hearing can be harmed by medications that have antibiotics, analgesics, and diuretics. Consult your physician and your hearing health specialist about any dangers posed by your medications.
What should you do if you’re exposed to ototoxic chemicals?
Taking key precautions is the best way to protect your hearing from exposure to chemicals. Consult your employer about your level of exposure to these chemicals if you work in the automotive, pesticide spraying, plastics, firefighting, or construction industries. Whatever safety equipment that is provided to you, including gloves, masks, or garments, make use of all of it.
When you are at home, go over all safety labels on products and adhere to the instructions to the letter. Use proper ventilation, including opening windows, staying away from any chemicals, and asking for help if you are unable to understand any of the labels. Take extra precautions if you are around noise at the same time as chemicals, as the two can have a cumulative impact on your hearing. If you can’t stay away from chemicals or are on medications, make sure you have regular hearing tests so you can attempt to nip any problems in the bud. We are experienced in addressing the various causes of hearing loss and can help you come up with a plan to avoid further damage.
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