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There are numerous commonly recognized causes of hearing loss, but few people realize the hazards that some chemicals pose to their hearing. While there are several groups of people in danger, those in industries such as textiles, petroleum, automotive, plastics, and metal fabrication have greater exposure. Your quality of life can be improved by realizing what these chemicals are and how to protect yourself.

Some Chemicals Are Harmful to Your Hearing. Why?

Something that has a toxic impact on the nerves of the ears or the ears themselves is known as ototoxic. Particular chemicals are ototoxic, and individuals can be exposed to these chemicals at home and in the workplace. They could absorb these chemicals through the skin, ingest, or inhale them. Once these chemicals are in the body, they can impact the sensitive nerves and other portions of the ear. The impact is even worse with high levels of noise exposure, causing temporary or permanent hearing loss.

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

  • Pharmaceuticals – Hearing can be damaged by drugs like diuretics, antibiotics, and analgesics. Speak with your regular physician and your hearing health specialist about any risks posed by your medications.
  • Metals and Compounds – Metals such as mercury and lead have other harmful effects on the body, but they can also trigger hearing loss. These metals are commonly found in the furniture and metal fabrication industries.
  • Solvents – Solvents, including carbon disulfide and styrene, are used in some industries like plastics and insulation. Make sure that if you work in one of these industries, you use all of your safety equipment and consult your workplace safety officer about your level of exposure.
  • Nitriles – Nitriles such as 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are used to make products such as automotive rubber and seals, super glue, and latex gloves. Even though your hearing can be harmed by these nitrile based chemicals, they have the advantage of repelling water.
  • Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants decrease the amount of oxygen in the air, and include things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Dangerous levels of these chemicals can be produced by vehicles, gas tools, stoves and other appliances.

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

The key to protecting your hearing from exposure to chemicals is to take precautions. Consult your employer about levels of exposure to these chemicals if you work in the construction, plastics, pesticide spraying, automotive, or fire-fighting fields. Be certain you make use of every safety material your job provides, like 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 assistance if you can’t decipher any of the labels. Take extra precautions if you are exposed to noise at the same time as chemicals because the two can have a cumulative impact on your hearing. If you can’t steer clear of chemicals or are taking medications, make sure you have routine hearing exams so you can try to get ahead of any problems. The numerous causes of hearing loss are well known to hearing specialists so make an appointment for a hearing test in order to prevent further damage.

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