Most people know about the common causes of hearing loss, but certain chemicals can also cause hearing loss which can be surprising. While there are several groups of people at risk, individuals in industries such as textiles, petroleum, automotive, plastics, and metal fabrication have greater exposure. Knowing what these harmful chemicals are and what safeguards you should take can help protect your quality of life.
Your hearing could be damaged by some chemicals
The ears themselves or the nerves of the ears can be toxically affected by anything that has an “ototoxic” effect. People can be exposed to chemicals that are “ototoxic” in the workplace or at home. They may absorb these chemicals through the skin, breathe, or ingest them. Once these chemicals are in the body, they can make their way to the delicate nerves and other parts of the ear. Noise exposure will multiply the negative effects, whether permanent or temporary, of ototoxic hearing loss.
Five types of chemicals that can harm your hearing were defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA:
- Pharmaceuticals – Drugs, including antibiotics, diuretics, and analgesics can harm your hearing. Talk to your physician and your hearing health specialist about any dangers posed by your medications.
- 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 contribute to hearing loss.
- Solvents – Specific industries including plastics and insulation utilize solvents like styrene and carbon disulfide in manufacturing. If you work in these fields, speak with your workplace safety officer about the degree of exposure you might have, and wear all of your safety equipment.
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants reduce the amount of oxygen in the air and consist of things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Harmful levels of these chemicals are frequently put out by things like stoves, gas engines, and other appliances.
- Metals and compounds – Metals like mercury and lead have other harmful effects on the body, but they can also trigger hearing loss. People could regularly be exposed to these metals if they work in the furniture or metal fabrication industries.
What can you do if you’re exposed to ototoxic chemicals?
Taking key precautions is the best way to safeguard your hearing from exposure to chemicals. Consult your employer about your degree of exposure to these chemicals if you work in the automotive, pesticide spraying, plastics, firefighting, or construction industries. Any safety equipment that is provided to you, like gloves, masks, or garments, use all of it.
When you are at home, read all safety labels on products and adhere to the instructions to the letter. Use appropriate ventilation, including opening windows, staying away from any chemicals, and asking for help if you are unable to understand any of the labels. Loud noise and chemicals can have a cumulative impact on your hearing so if you find yourself in this kind of situation, take extra precautions. If you can’t avoid chemicals or are on medications, be certain you have regular hearing tests so you can try to nip any problems in the bud. We are experienced in addressing the numerous causes of hearing loss and can help you formulate a plan to prevent further damage.