Certain chemicals are ototoxic, which means they can cause damage to the ear. This damage can lead to tinnitus, hearing loss and balance problems.
Many of these chemicals are found in everyday household items like rug cleaners, pesticides, paints, solvents and lubricants, just to name a few.
How Are Chemicals Able to Damage the Ears?
Any ototoxic chemical that is eaten, absorbed through the skin or breathed in has the potential to damage either the auditory pathways or the hair cells in the inner ear. When enough damage occurs, you can experience hearing and balance-related symptoms.
It also appears that if you are exposed to loud noise at the same time as ototoxic chemicals, it may make hearing loss and other ear issues more likely. For example, research has shown that carbon monoxide and cyanide may reduce your ear’s ability to repair noise-induced damage. This exacerbates the damage already caused by chemical exposure.
Symptoms of Ototoxic Chemical Exposure
Symptoms of ototoxic chemical exposure can be temporary or permanent. If you experience hearing loss, it may be severe and obvious. However, it can also be more subtle. You might notice that you have a hard time following conversation, especially in busy places like Secreto Lounge.
Other symptoms may include:
- Tinnitus (ringing in ear)
- Fullness in ear
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
- Blurry vision
- Feeling unsteady when walking
Who Is 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:
- Manufacturing, such as metal workers, textile workers and painters
If you know you are going to be exposed to ototoxic chemicals at work, make sure to wear appropriate clothing, including gloves and a mask, and work in a well-ventilated area. It also might be worth it to ask if the chemicals could be replaced with non-toxic alternatives.
Visit an Audiologist for Any Hearing and Balance Issues
If you believe you are experiencing symptoms of ear damage caused by chemical exposure, make an appointment with an audiologist as soon as possible. The sooner you get evaluated the sooner you can begin a treatment plan to manage your symptoms and keep them from worsening.
For additional information or to schedule an appointment, contact Southwestern Hearing & Balance today.