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This entry was posted on 7th September 2018 by Joan McKechnie.
What frequency of noises & decibel levels makes up the human hearing range? Do you have normal hearing? Learn more and take our quick hearing test.
In this expert guide, we walk you through the human hearing range, plus, provide the opportunity for you to check your hearing online.
Processing sound waves and translating them into signals that we interpret as music, noise or speech is the main job of the ear and its parts. Although its structure and functions are perfectly aligned to deliver the sounds we are used to, the normal adult human hearing range is limited to certain frequencies and specific sounds remain inaudible.
Firstly, all sounds have different frequencies (number of vibrations per second), which are responsible for the pitch and the tone. Additionally, frequencies are measured in Hertz (one vibration per second).
The normal human hearing range of a healthy individual is usually in-between 20Hz and 20000Hz with the higher frequencies gradually fading during a lifetime. Below 20Hz are called infrasounds and above 20000Hz are called ultrasounds.
Depending on your gender, age and occupation, each person’s audible range may fluctuate but usually it is within those limits. Overall, the human ear is best adapted to frequencies between 1000 and 3500Hz (human speech covers the range of 200-8000Hz).
Decibels (dB) are the unit used to measure sound intensity and anything above 90dB will cause damage to the ear. The higher the intensity of the sound the quicker it will damage the delicate structures in the ear.
Hearing, just like the other human senses, is a fascinating process involving multiple body parts. Complex as it is, it is also very sensitive and fragile, so it is good to know how it functions in order to protect it.
The human ear consists of three main parts:
The main organ responsible for the hearing process is the cochlea – a small shell-like structure with tubes full of liquid and tiny, extremely sensitive hair cells. The hair cells are integral to hearing and even the slightest damage can compromise their proper function, as they do not regenerate. This is how hearing loss develops. In terms of hearing ability, those with normal hearing should not expect or experience any loss more than 25dB.
If you feel you are experiencing a loss of hearing greater than 25dB, take our free online hearing test.
Results should indicate if you need to take further action to look after your hearing. We recommend that if you have concerns, you should consult a medical professional or audiologist who can perform clinical screenings to assess hearing ability.
Many animals have a wider hearing range compared to humans and pick up infrasonic and ultrasonic sounds. Sounds below 20Hz (such as a heartbeat) are called infrasonic and above 20kHz, ultrasonic (echolocation of bats). Dogs, for example, have a hearing range between 40 and 60000Hz and they respond better to higher frequency sounds. That is why training whistles are designed to emit ultrasonic signals.
Bats are another species whose hearing exceeds human levels and reaches to 150kHz. As they have limited vision, echolocation is essential for hunting and surviving. An interesting animal, the dolphin is famous for its high-frequency communication that is usually between 75 and 150000Hz. Below, you can see a short overview of some other animals’ hearing range compared to the human range.
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After qualifying as a Speech-Language Pathologist and Audiologist Joan has spent most of her 20 year career in hearing-care related roles. She has a wealth of experience within the hearing aid and hearing rehabilitation fields and has worked in manufacturing environments with two hearing aid companies helping to develop products and roll out new technologies. Joan has been involved with Hearing Direct since its launch and enjoys the online retail environment which seeks to provide easier access to hearing products and accessories. She is HCPC registered. Read Joan's full bio here.
This entry was posted in Hearing Information and tagged USA, Hearing loss, Fun Facts on 7th September 2018 by Joan McKechnie.
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