National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research (NCRAR)
When uncontrolled, noise exposure may cause permanent hearing damage resulting in trouble understanding speech, tinnitus and an inability to tolerate loud sounds. Exposure to substances including certain pesticides, solvents, fuels, and pharmaceuticals that contain ototoxicants can negatively affect how the ear and brain function, causing problems with hearing and/or balance. Normal aging comes at the expense of reduced function of many body systems, including those that support good hearing and balance. Diseases such as diabetes and heart disease that are common among older adults seem to hasten these age-related effects. A major emphasis of research at the NCRAR is to increase knowledge of how to prevent auditory and balance dysfunction resulting from noise and blast exposure, ototoxic medications, aging and disease, and how to assess the utility of preventative measures and interventions. Another goal is to increase access to hearing health care in order to prevent the cognitive, social and emotional deficits that can accompany untreated hearing loss, tinnitus and balance problems.
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