Certain chemicals are ototoxic. This means they damage the ear, which can result in tinnitus, hearing loss and balance issues. These chemicals are found in certain pesticides, solvents and paints, among other products.
How Ototoxic Chemicals Harm Ears
An ototoxic chemical may harm your ears if it is ingested, absorbed through the skin or inhaled. Once in the bloodstream, it has the potential to damage the auditory pathways or the hair cells of the inner ear, leading to hearing loss and other symptoms.
Being exposed to loud noise at the same time can also increase your risk. Research has shown that the ototoxic chemicals, carbon monoxide and cyanide, may reduce your ear’s ability to repair noise-induced damage. This compounds the damage caused by chemical exposure.
Symptoms of Ear Damage
If you have recently been exposed to ototoxic chemicals, keep an eye out for any of the following symptoms:
- Mild to severe hearing loss
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ear)
- Fullness in ear
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
- Blurry vision
- Feeling unsteady
Am I at Risk for Ototoxic Chemical Exposure?
More people are exposed to chemicals at home than at work. However, you may be at a higher risk of coming into contact with chemicals that can damage your hearing if you work in one of the following industries:
- Specifically, metal workers, textile workers, painters and people who build boats or ships.
If you know you are going to be exposed to ototoxic chemicals at work or during a home project, make sure to wear appropriate clothing. This can include gloves, long sleeves and a mask. Try to make sure all work is done in a well-ventilated area. If you use these chemicals at work, ask if it would be possible to replace it with a non-toxic alternative.
Seek Treatment for Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can take a toll on your quality of life. It can make it difficult to understand speech. This can make it difficult to focus on work meetings or follow the conversation when out with friends at Downtown Social House.
Seek treatment at the first sign of hearing loss or any other symptoms of ear damage. Treatments, including hearing aids, are available to help manage your condition and keep you connected and active in your daily life.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact Gulf Coast Audiology today.