Illini Hearing - Champaign and Mahomet, IL

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There are many commonly known causes of hearing loss, but not too many people realize the hazards that certain chemicals pose to their hearing. There is an greater exposure risk for people who work in metal fabrication, automotive-plastics, petroleum, and textiles. Your quality of life can be improved by realizing what these chemicals are and how to protect yourself.

Why Are Certain Chemicals Harmful to Your Hearing?

Something that has a toxic impact on the nerves of the ears or the ears themselves is known as ototoxic. Some chemicals are ototoxic, and individuals can be exposed to these chemicals at home and in the workplace. They may absorb these chemicals through the skin, ingest, or inhale them. These chemicals, once they get into the body, will go into the ear, impacting the delicate nerves. The resulting hearing loss might be temporary or permanent, and the effect is worse when noise exposure is also at high levels.

Five types of chemicals that can be harmful to your hearing have been confirmed by OSHA or the Occupation Safety and Health Administration:

  • Pharmaceuticals – Drugs including diuretics, antibiotics, and analgesics can damage hearing. Talk to your regular physician and your hearing health specialist about any dangers posed by your medications.
  • Solvents – Solvents, including styrene and carbon disulfide, are used in certain industries like plastics and insulation. Make sure that if you work in one of these industries, you wear all of your safety equipment and talk to your workplace safety officer about how much you are exposed.
  • Metals and Compounds – Metals such as mercury and lead have other harmful effects on the body, but they can also trigger hearing loss. People in the metal fabrication or furniture industries may get 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. Vehicles, gas tools, stoves, and other appliances might produce dangerous levels of these chemicals.
  • Nitriles – Nitriles including 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are used to make products such as automotive rubber and seals, super glue, and latex gloves. Nitrile-based products can be advantageous because they help repel water, but exposure can harm your hearing.

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

Taking precautions is the key to safeguarding your hearing. If you work in an industry such as plastics, automotive, fire-fighting, pesticide spraying, or construction, consult your employer about exposure levels to these chemicals. If your workplace supplies safety equipment including protective garments, masks, or gloves, use them.

Make sure you observe all of the instructions on the labels of your medications before you use them. When you are using any chemicals, if your not sure about what the label means, get help, and use correct ventilation. Noise and chemicals can have a cumulative impact on your hearing, so if you are around both simultaneously, take added precautions. If you can’t avoid chemicals or are taking medications, make sure you have routine hearing tests so you can try to get ahead of any problems. Hearing specialists have experience with the numerous causes of hearing loss and can help you come up with a plan to prevent further damage.

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