hearing loss range1The Range of human hearing refers to the spectrum of pitch range and loudness levels a person hears between inaudible and the feeling of discomfort.

Loudness and pitch

The human hearing range depends on both the pitch of the sound – whether it is high or low – and the loudness of the sound. Pitch is measured in Hertz (Hz) and loudness is measured in decibels (dB).

A person with normal hearing, will have be able to hear pitches which start as low as about 20 Hz (e.g.  the same tone as the lowest pedal on a pipe organ), and extends to about 20,000Hz. While 20 to 20,000Hz forms the the extreme borders of the human hearing range at our peak, our hearing is most acute in the 2000 – 5000 Hz frequency range.

As far as loudness is concerned, humans can hear most frequencies at starting at 0 dB to around 11db. Sounds that are more than 85dB can be painful and ultimately dangerous to listen to for prolonged periods.

Examples of typical sounds:

Hearing loss2

Effectively and astonishingly, there are some sounds that humans can’t hear. For instance the sound of a dog whistle, which is extremely high pitch. Low frequency sounds are often felt as vibrations rather than heard as sound.

Hearing ranges of people with hearing loss

When you acquire hearing loss, it affects the range of your hearing. Most people will experience a loss of sensitivity which is often particularly more prominent in the higher pitch range. Certain speech sounds, and instruments like flutes will be more difficult to hear with hearing loss.

In order to gauge your actual hearing range a hearing aid audiologist will need to perform a hearing test and plot your thresholds on to an audiogram. An audiogram is a chart that shows the results of your hearing test. Your hearing test results are plotted on a graph and then compared with that of a person with normal levels of hearing. Hearing professionals use the audiogram to establish your hearing loss and as a tool for fitting hearing aids.

Here’s what an audiogram looks like:

Hearing loss3

This test shows your hearing “threshold” or the point where you can’t hear any more. This thresholds are recorded for both ears separately as two separate lines on your audiogram.The red line shows the level of hearing of a person’s right ear. The left ear is plotted with a blue line.

The area below the line shows the levels of hearing loss that this person can hear and the area above the line shows the levels that the person can’t hear.

Here are some common sounds plotted on a standard audiogram:

hearing loss4

What are your Next Steps

If you feel that your hearing range isn’t what it used to be, It’s a good idea to visit a hearing centre like ours for a full hearing test. We can determine whether or not you have hearing loss or whether you have wax problems or even more serious medical issues. We can then recommend a course of action if you do have a hearing loss.

Visit our Centres in Henley-on-thames or Chalfont, Amersham to get a hearing test today.