Audio Life Hearing Center- Knoxville, TN

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

Most people are informed about the common causes of hearing loss but don’t recognize the hazards that everyday chemicals pose to their hearing. There is an increased exposure risk 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.

Select Chemicals Are Harmful to Your Hearing. Why?

Something that has a toxic effect on the nerves of the ears or the ears themselves is known as ototoxic. Certain chemicals are ototoxic, and individuals can be exposed to these chemicals at work or at home. They might absorb these chemicals through the skin, inhale, or ingest them. These chemicals, once they’re absorbed into the body, will go into the ear, impacting the delicate nerves. The effect is even worse when it comes with high levels of noise exposure, leading to temporary or long-term loss of hearing.

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

  • Pharmaceuticals – Drugs including diuretics, antibiotics, and analgesics can damage hearing. Any questions about medication that you might be taking should be discussed with your doctor and your hearing care specialist.
  • Nitriles – Things like super glue, latex gloves, and rubber automotive seals contain nitriles including acrylonitrile and 3-Butenenitrile. Though your hearing can be damaged by these nitrile based chemicals, they have the benefit of repelling water.
  • Metals and Compounds – Hearing loss can be caused by metals like lead and mercury which also have other harmful health effects. People in the fabricated metal or furniture industries could be exposed to these metals frequently.
  • Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants reduce the amount of oxygen in the air, and consist of things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Dangerous levels of these chemicals can be produced by gas tools, vehicles, stoves and other appliances.
  • Solvents – Solvents, such as styrene and carbon disulfide, are used in select industries like plastics and insulation. If you work in these fields, talk to your workplace safety officer about how much exposure you may have, and use all of your safety equipment.

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

The trick to safeguarding 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 industries. Be certain you use every safety material your job supplies, like protective garment, gloves, and masks.

When you are home, read all safety labels on products and adhere to the instructions to the letter. Use proper ventilation, including opening windows, and staying away from any chemicals or asking for help if you can’t decipher any of the labels. Take extra precautions if you are around 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 regular hearing exams so you can try to nip any problems in the bud. The various causes of hearing loss are well known to hearing specialists so make an appointment for a hearing exam in order to avoid 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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