We hear many sounds in our everyday environment, from chirping birds in the morning and the rustle of wind, to cars in traffic and babies crying. These sounds are all within the human hearing range, which is called the ‘audible range’. However, there are sounds that are harmful to our hearing and can lead to hearing loss. Find out what the normal human hearing range is below.
The human hearing range depends on the frequency and loudness (or intensity) of sounds. Frequency is the number of times a sound pressure wave repeats itself per second. It is perceived as pitch and is measured in hertz (Hz). The loudness (or intensity) is the pressure level of the sound pressure wave. It is perceived as loudness and is measured in decibels (dB).
The ‘normal’ hearing range for humans is from 0 to 140dB. While this is the normal audible range, any sounds that are more than 85dB can be harmful to your hearing, depending on how long and often you are exposed to them. Common sounds that are above 85dB include sirens, lawn mowers, and heavy machinery. If you are expecting to be in environments that are known to have loud noise, it is important to wear hearing protection such as earplugs or earmuffs. This will help reduce your exposure to harmful levels of noise and help protect your ears.
The frequency a person can hear starts low at about 20Hz. The highest possible frequency of the human hearing range is 20,000Hz. All sounds below 20Hz are called infrasounds and similarly, all sounds above 20,000Hz are called ultrasounds. While 20 - 20,000Hz are the borders of the normal hearing range, our hearing is most sensitive between the 2000 – 5000Hz frequency range.
Age-related hearing loss (also known as presbycusis) naturally occurs as we age. Our hearing can deteriorate over time from degeneration within the inner ear. This is due to continued exposure to loud noise over the course of your life, which affects the health of tiny hair cells in the inner ear. These hair cells are what help us hear by translating sound waves into electrical signals for the brain to interpret as recognisable sound. As hair cells do not regenerate or grow, any hearing loss we experience as a result of this damage is permanent.
While damage is permanent, hearing aids can help to improve the hearing you have left. Your Bay Audiology clinician can evaluate your hearing and discuss hearing aid options that are suited to your hearing needs, lifestyle and budget.