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October 03, 2005

Significant drop in hearing ability after age 60 years

The hearing declines with age. In particular, many people find that their hearing declines significantly from the age of 60.

This was the conclusion in an Italian study involving hearing testing at six different frequencies of 13,710 people over the age of 60. The study showed that the loss of hearing is most pronounced in high frequencies, but over time it becomes difficult for most people to hear ordinary speech at frequencies between 500 and 3,000 Hz, as well.

At low frequencies, between 250 and 1,000 Hz, the loss of hearing is almost identical among men and women. In these frequencies the average hearing loss increases from 22-25 dB among those aged between 60 and 64 to 38-48 dB in the highest age group.

A different pattern is found in high frequencies of 2000-8000 Hz, with men suffering much higher hearing loss than women already from the age of 60. At 4,000 Hz the hearing loss among men is almost 20 dB greater than the hearing loss among women of the same age. However, the difference becomes less in later years.

The study also showed that the loss of hearing is most uneven among the younger age groups in the study. According to the researchers behind the study, this is because earlier lifestyles have the greatest effect on the level of hearing before the age of 75. In the age group above 80 years the hearing loss is more uniform because the vast majority of people are affected by age related hearing loss.

Source: Audiometric and Epidemiological Analysis of Elderly in the Veneto Region, Gerontology.

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