We have previously discussed ototoxic medications, which when taken can contribute to temporary or permanent hearing loss.
So it makes sense that there are other chemicals in our environment that could potentially do the same thing. Ototoxicity is a concern we should all be aware of, because it can affect us deeply.
From the dictionary: Ototoxicity refers to drug or chemical-related damage to the inner ear, resulting in damage to the organs responsible for hearing and balance. Such damage can lead to temporary or permanent hearing loss, and/or loss of balance.
Ototoxicity is a common side effect of certain medications, including one whole class of antibiotics as well as over-the-counter NSAIDS such as aspirin and ibuprofen. These medications can cause ringing in the ear, temporary hearing loss, balance issues like vertigo, or even permanent hearing loss.
Job-Related Hearing Loss Risks
Other ototoxicants include solvents, nitriles, metals/compounds, and asphyxiants (including carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke). If you work in industries such as construction, mining, agriculture or utilities, you may be exposed to these chemicals on a daily basis. In the manufacturing sector, you may be exposed if you work with paint, textiles, fabricated metal, or ship-building.
OSHA has identified some work-related issues to ototoxicity, including one danger that may cause a worker to be unable to filter out background noise sufficiently to hear warnings from other co-workers or alert systems.
Testing for Ototoxicity
Most hearing tests currently do not distinguish between noise-related hearing loss and ototoxicity-related hearing loss, so it may be difficult to know the cause for some people who work in these environments, especially since jobs at factories or other sectors may include significant noise levels as well.
If you suspect hearing loss for any reason, it is important to visit your audiologist right away. Hearing loss is irreversible, so it is crucial to catch it as early as possible in order to prevent further loss.
Give us a call today to have a hearing evaluation and to discuss options for preventing and stopping hearing loss.
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The information provided in this article is not meant to be medical advice and is for educational purposes only. If you would like to learn more about this and other topics related to audiology, feel free to contact Los Gatos Audiology, with a convenient hearing center located in Los Gatos, CA, by clicking here or by calling 408.703.0451.