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Colorado Springs

Audiology, Inc.

 

 

 

Phone  719.520.1155

LOCATION  & DIRECTIONS

Dr. Gene McHugh

Licensed Audiologist

In Colorado

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Mountain Time USA

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What is "normal" hearing for my age?

 

Everyone over the grand old age of 20 starts to show natural changes (i.e., decline) in hearing.  However, it is not typically until age 50-60+ that the normal decline in hearing related to age begins to be defined as a "disability."  Even so, the decline develops so gradually that it is difficult to determine when the hearing loss is "communicatively significant," and the definition of "communicatively significant" is quite different because people's reaction to their own decline in hearing is different (people are different!).  So what's normal for my age.  What's normal is an expected decline in hearing at different frequencies (as shown below), but what may be "normal for YOUR age" may be quite a lot lower than your kid's or grandkid's hearing levels, and there in lies the problem. 

    

Research on normative data concerning hearing and age is lacking.  In the1950-60's, there were a handful of large scale efforts in the US and Europe to develop normative data based upon age. Henchcliff (Scotland), Spoor (Netherlands), Person & Mair (England), Glorig (1954) are the most notable.  However, within the past 60 years, there has been little or no studies conducted anywhere.  OSHA (the Occupational Health and Safety Act) has age-related (presbycusic) curves, but there is no data past age 60 where people are most concerned. 

 

Nonetheless, I will give you my best estimate using what data is available.  I do not want to relate these data to hearing loss because there is no uniform definition in the literature as to what constitutes a (communicatively significant) hearing loss.   

 

The are different ways to show PURE TONE AVERAGE.  While most audiologists test 8-10 frequencies in each ear, an individual's pure tone average (or PTA) is basically an average of thresholds at selected frequencies.   Usually, PTA is the following three frequencies - 500, 1000, 2000Hz.  Others use four frequencies - 500, 1000, 2000 and 4000Hz.  OSHA and the military use 1000, 2000, 3000 and 4000Hz.  

 

Longitudinal studies over the past ten years have shown hearing levels have not become worse over the past two generations.  Therefore, using Spoor's (1967) equations, the following represent various PTA scores based upon age.  

 

MALES BY AGE AND EXPECTED PURE TONE AVERAGES

Age 3 Freq Ave 4 Freq Ave OSHA & Military        
25 year old 0.0 decibels (dB) 0.0dB 0.0dB        
30 year old 0.5dB 1.1dB 1.4dB
35 year old 1.3dB 1.95db 3.2dB        
40 year old 4.6dB 4.1dB 5.2dB        
45 year old 3.7dB 6.15dB 7.8dB        
50 year old 5.5dB 7.9 10.9dB        
55 year old 7.6dB 11.4dB 14.3dB        
60 year old 12.4dB 14.7dB 18.2dB        
65 year old 13.1dB 21.1dB 22.8dB        
70 year old 16.7dB 22.8dB 27.9dB        
75 year old 21dB 27.6dB 33.6dB        
80 year old 26dB 33.0dB 40dB        
85+ year old 31dB 39.0dB 46.8dB

 

FEMALES BY AGE AND EXPECTED PURE TONE AVERAGES

Age 3 Freq Ave 4 Freq Ave OSHA & Military        
25 year old 0.0 decibels (dB) dB dB        
30 year old 1.0dB dB dB
35 year old 1.3dB db dB        
40 year old 2.3dB dB dB        
45 year old 3.8dB dB dB        
50 year old dB dB dB        
55 year old dB dB dB        
60 year old dB dB dB        
65 year old dB dB dB        
70 year old dB dB dB        
75 year old dB dB dB        
80 year old dB dB dB        
85+ year old 31dB dB dB

 

References:

Prevalence of Hearing Loss and Differences by Demographic Characteristics Among US Adults
Data From the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999-2004
Yuri Agrawal, MD; Elizabeth A. Platz, ScD, MPH; John K. Niparko, MD 

Published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, vol 168 (number 14), 2008

For a PDF form online, click here.

 

Spoor, A.  Presbycusis Values in Relation to Noise Induced Hearing Loss. Author - A. Spoor, Netherlands. International Audiology, 6:48-57, (1967)