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There are lots of commonly known causes of hearing loss, but few people realize the dangers that some chemicals present to their hearing. There is an increased exposure hazard for people who work in metal fabrication, automotive-plastics, petroleum, and textiles. Your quality of life can be enhanced by realizing what these chemicals are and how to be protected.

Why Are Some Chemicals Detrimental to Your Hearing?

Something that has a toxic impact on the nerves of the ears or the ears themselves is known as ototoxic. Specific chemicals are ototoxic, and people can be exposed to these chemicals at home and in the workplace. They might absorb these chemicals through the skin, ingest, or inhale them. Once these chemicals get into the body, they can affect the sensitive nerves and other portions of the ear. The resultant hearing loss could be temporary or long-term, and the impact is worse when noise exposure is also at high levels.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, identified five kinds of chemicals that can be detrimental to your hearing:

  • Pharmaceuticals – Drugs including diuretics, antibiotics, and analgesics can damage hearing. Any concerns about medication that you might be taking should be talked over with your doctor and your hearing care specialist.
  • Asphyxiants – Things like tobacco smoke and carbon monoxide contain asphyxiants which lower the amount of oxygen in the air. Vehicles, stoves, gas tools, and other appliances might produce harmful levels of these chemicals.
  • Solvents – Solvents, like styrene and carbon disulfide, are used in some industries like insulation and plastics. If you work in these industries, talk to your workplace safety officer about the level of exposure you may have, and wear all of your safety equipment.
  • Nitriles – Things like latex gloves, super glue, and rubber automotive seals contain nitriles including acrylonitrile and 3-Butenenitrile. Though your hearing can be harmed by these nitrile based chemicals, they have the benefit of repelling water.
  • Metals and Compounds – Metals such as mercury and lead have other adverse effects on the body, but they can also cause hearing loss. These metals are typically found in the metal fabrication and furniture industries.

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

Taking precautions is the key to safeguarding your hearing. Ask your employer about levels of exposure to these chemicals if you work in the pesticide spraying, construction, plastics, automotive, or fire-fighting industries. Be certain you utilize every safety material your job supplies, like a protective garment, gloves, and masks.

When you’re at home, read all safety labels on products and adhere to the instructions to the letter. When you are using any chemicals, if you don’t understand the label, ask for help, and use correct ventilation. Take added precautions if you are around noise at the same time as chemicals as the two can have a cumulative effect on your hearing. If you can’t stay away from chemicals or are taking medications, be certain you have regular hearing exams so you can try to get ahead of any problems. Hearing specialists are experienced in dealing with the numerous causes of hearing loss and can help you put together a plan to avoid further damage.

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