Hearing loss is most commonly associated with things like aging or exposure to loud noise. However, other lesser-known causes exist. Certain chemicals are ototoxic, which means they have the ability to damage your hearing.
Common Ototoxic Chemicals
Ototoxic chemicals can be found in common items like cleaners, paints and gardening supplies. They include, but are not limited to:
- Hydrogen cyanide
- Carbon monoxide
- Carbon disulfide
Why Chemicals Can Damage Your Ear
Ototoxic chemicals can reach the inner ear through the bloodstream and cause damage to the tiny hair cells found there. These cells are crucial to the hearing process and once they are damaged, they cannot be repaired. Once enough cells are damaged, hearing loss and other issues can occur.
The risk of hearing loss seems to increase when exposure to these chemicals is coupled with higher noise levels. Research has shown that carbon monoxide and cyanide may reduce your ear’s ability to repair noise-induced damage.
Symptoms of Ototoxic Chemical Exposure
If you’ve been exposed to an ototoxic chemical, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Hearing loss, which can range from mild to severe
- Tinnitus (ringing in ear)
- Fullness in ear
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
- Blurry vision
- Feeling unsteady when out walking at The Jordan River Trail
Seek Immediate Help for Signs of Ear Damage
If you’re experiencing signs of ear damage from exposure to certain chemicals, it’s important to seek help right away. The longer you put off seeking help the worse your hearing and balance issues could become.
An audiologist can help assess the severity of your hearing or balance problems and together you can come up with a treatment plan that best meets your needs.
How to Protect Yourself from Ototoxic Chemicals
There are several steps you can take to protect yourself from ototoxic chemicals:
- Learn about what chemicals can cause ear damage and see if you are using any at home or at work. If you are, see if there is a way to replace hazardous chemicals with safer options
- Wear gloves, masks and appropriate clothing when handling these chemicals
- Follow all safety precautions outlined by your work and on labels
- Open windows and doors for better ventilation
- Limit or avoid exposure to chemicals if you don’t know they are safe
For more information or to schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist, contact South Valley Ear Nose & Throat today.