How Sound is Measured in Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is one of the biggest health concerns in the U.S. It is the third most commonly reported physical condition, following arthritis and heart disease. It affects roughly 20 percent of the American population, and can strike people of all ages.


As we get older, we all experience presbycusis, age-related hearing loss. Because of this, the cells in your ears begin to have trouble picking up higher frequency sounds. In addition to normal, age-related hearing loss, high-frequency hearing loss is caused by:

  • Exposure to loud noises
  • Genetics
  • Ototoxicity
  • Disease


Those with high-frequency hearing loss find it difficult to hear sounds in the 2,000 to 8,000 Hz range. This type of hearing loss makes it hard for individual to hear s, h or f sounds as well as the voices of women and children. Other sounds people may miss is birds chirping or the beeping of a microwave.


What Makes a Sound High-Frequency?


Sound travels in waves and is measured in frequency and amplitude.


Amplitude is the measurement of how forceful a wave is. This measurement is reported in decibels (dB); the louder a sound is the higher the decibel number will be. Sounds that are too loud can permanently damage your hearing. Normal conversation clocks in around 65 dB.

  • Exposure to sound over 85 dB (busy Las Vegas traffic) can cause damage within 8 hours
  • Exposure to sound over 100 dB (a motorcycle) can cause damage within 15 minutes
  • Exposure to sound over 120 dB (a chain saw) can cause damage instantly


Frequency is the measurement of the number of sound vibrations in one second. Measured in hertz (Hz), a healthy ear can hear a wide range of frequencies, from as low as 20 Hz to as high as 20,000 Hz.


What Sounds Should You Be Able to Hear?


8,000 Hz should be easily heard by everyone with normal hearing


12,000 Hz is hard for anyone over 50 years of age to hear


15,000 Hz is difficult for anyone over the age of 40 to hear


17,400 Hz is a frequency that only teenagers can hear. Most people over the age of 18 cannot hear this tone


Could you hear all the videos above? Probably not. No need to worry; this is why your Las Vegas audiologist is just a phone call away. The quality of your headphones, volume of your computer and even the listening environment you are currently in all play a role in your ability to hear these tones. Your audiologist is able to perform a controlled assessment of your hearing to determine if you are experiencing any hearing loss.