HEARING TIPS

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There are many commonly known causes of hearing loss, but few people realize the hazards that certain chemicals present 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 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 effect on the nerves of the ears or the ears themselves is known as ototoxic. Particular chemicals are ototoxic, and people can be exposed to these chemicals at home and in the workplace. These chemicals can be absorbed by ingestion, inhalation, or through the skin. Once these chemicals get into the body, they can travel to the sensitive nerves and other portions of the ear. The ensuing hearing loss may be temporary or permanent, and the impact is worse when noise exposure is also at high levels.

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

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

If You Are Subjected to These Ototoxic Chemicals, What Can You do?

Taking precautions is the key to safeguarding your hearing. Consult your employer about levels of exposure to these chemicals if you work in the construction, plastics, pesticide spraying, automotive, or fire-fighting industries. If your workplace offers safety equipment like protective garments, masks, or gloves, use them.

When you’re at home, read all safety labels on products and follow the instructions 100 percent. Use correct ventilation, including opening windows, and staying away from any chemicals or asking for help if you can’t understand 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 stay away from chemicals or are taking medications, be certain you have routine hearing tests so you can try to get ahead of any problems. Hearing specialists are experienced in dealing with the various causes of hearing loss and can help you put together a plan to stop further damage.

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