Hearing loss constitutes one of the country’s most pervasive and serious health problems, affecting people of all ages. Middle ear infections represent one of the most prevalent health problems for young children and are the most common reason for them to visit their physician. In the adult population, noise-induced hearing loss is one of the top five industrial health problems; in the armed forces, it is one of the most expensive health-care compensation costs.
Hearing loss increases substantially in the elderly population, where it can lead to a breakdown in communication skills and increase the risk of social isolation. The human costs of hearing loss are enormous when measured in terms of lost productivity, compromised lifestyle, and impaired cognitive and/or language skills in children. Solutions to these problems require the expertise of a broad range of scientific and clinical specialists.
During the past two decades, enormous advances have been made in the fields of biology, pharmacology, genetics, neuroscience, engineering, immunology, and computer science. These advances provide new and unique opportunities for addressing the problems of hearing loss and deafness.
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