How Does Your Hearing Change as You Age?

by | Apr 25, 2022 | News

Before worrying about possible hearing loss, you should remember that age causes changes to the way you hear even when you are otherwise healthy. It’s a natural part of aging. At the same time, it can be jarring for people with particularly acute hearing to notice frequencies disappearing from their range. It’s also important to know if it is more pronounced than it should be for your age, since rapid loss is a symptom of many serious health conditions. Seeking out the right treatment early can minimize the effect they have, and there are more treatments to support hearing augmentation today than ever.

Traits of Age-Related Hearing Decline

Senior citizens experiencing hearing attenuation as part of the aging process tend to notice the reduced sensitivity in both ears at once. There’s not typically any additional symptoms like ringing or imaginary sounds the way there can be with trauma related hearing loss. The most noticeable trait early on is usually trouble making out the finer points of human speech, especially when there is a fair amount of background noise.

Most age-related hearing issues that have no underlying health condition as the cause come from losing the ability to distinguish frequencies. It can show up as a reduction in the ability to hear high pitched noises, with effects visible as early as 20 in many people for the extreme high end of hearing sensitivity. It also shows up as the inability to distinguish between very close tones, an effect that many musicians find particularly vexing. Age related loss can also be caused by an underlying condition like high blood pressure or thyroid problems, and in those cases treatment for the underlying condition is a necessary step toward treating the hearing loss.

Average Hearing Frequency Loss by Decade

While there are always people who have unusually sensitive hearing that defy this curve, the average rate of hearing attenuation can be pinpointed to specific pitch ceilings that tend to disappear decade by decade. Here’s the breakdown according to Science Direct:

  • Many children and teens can hear frequencies above 18khz, but for most people they become inaudible by age 20
  • Clinically normal hearing in teens and young adults typically goes to about 16khz
  • That ceiling tends to persist for a couple decades, but the average volume needed to hear the highest pitched sounds steadily increases until the ability disappears
  • By age 50, most people have trouble hearing noise above 14khz at all, and at average volume the top end is usually closer to 11.2khz
  • By age 70, the average person hears sounds up to 9.8khz comfortably at normal noise levels, with a top end of around 12khz for loud noises

While these numbers only represent one report and there are always degrees of difference from one to the next due to differences in data collection, the findings generally tend to agree with these numbers with only minor differences.

Work With the HEAR Center

If you’re concerned about the effects of age-related hearing loss, a quick hearing test can provide clarity on the issue. For those that discover their range has diminished, hearing augmentation options are more diverse than ever before. HEAR Center specializes in providing hearing and speech services to people of all ages.

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