Age- and gender-specific reference ranges for hearing level and longitudinal changes in hearing level

J Acoust Soc Am. 1996 Oct;100(4 Pt 1):1949-67. doi: 10.1121/1.417906.


This paper presents age-specific reference ranges for hearing level and change in hearing level for men and women at 500, 1000, 2000, and 4000 Hz. The percentiles are constructed from data obtained from persons in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging who were rigorously screened for otological disorders and evidence of noise-induced hearing loss. The resulting percentile curves represent norms for changes in hearing level in the absence of any known otologic disease. These percentile curves provide a reference for detecting when a person deviates from a normal pattern of change, thus helping in diagnosing problems with hearing or in monitoring hearing in occupational settings. The smoothed means and standard deviations of the hearing levels were used to construct the longitudinal percentiles. The percentiles for cross-sectional change were constructed using the skew normal distribution to allow for the percentiles to be asymmetric on either side of the median level. These percentiles are the first reference curves that (1) provide standards for hearing level changes over periods of up to 15 years, (2) account for age differences in the distribution of hearing levels, and (3) are based on data from persons who have been systematically screened for otological disorders and evidence of noise-induced hearing loss.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Auditory Threshold*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Hearing / physiology*
  • Hearing Loss, Noise-Induced
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex*