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What is Normal Hearing?

August 6, 2014

What happens when you lose your hearing?

Normal hearing is simply: the ability to hear and understand even the softest whisper.


The science of hearing

Medically speaking, (give or take a few Hz) humans are able to detect sound between 20Hz – 20kHz. However, in most scenarios we are only detailing sounds within the 500Hz – 3 kHz range; this is the range in which conversation generally takes places.

Hearing loss, due to normal ageing or exposure to excessive noise, generally develops in the high frequencies first en then starts to affect the lower frequencies later. In audiology, this is called a sensorineural hearing loss because it either affects the cochlea (inner ear) or hearing nerve or both.

It is also possible to have a hearing loss due to a dysfunctional middle- or outer ear, but have normal inner ear function. This is known as a conductive hearing loss.   Although it’s not always possible to restore normal hearing, Southern ENT is here to help you in selecting the best solution to hear better.


First steps

Visit an audiologist to undergo a hearing test. An audiometric test battery usually includes amongst others, a threshold test for detecting tones and speech, an otoscopic examination and a middle ear test to rule out possible middle ear problems  There are various hearing solutions available for different types of hearing loss to keep you connected to the world of sound.  You may be a candidate for a cochlear implant or a bone anchored implant (Baha®)


Did you know: If you can detect pure tones at 0-20dB, it is considered as normal hearing.


Normal conversation takes place between at around 60 decibels.  If your hearing thresholds are between 0 dB – 20dB it is considered as normal hearing. When thresholds are below the normal limits one may begin to struggle to understand or follow conversations.

A dog’s bark is generally very loud (between 70-90 decibels), very low-pitched and if you cannot hear barking your hearing loss would be considered severe. On the opposite side of the scale, a common garden bird chirps at a high frequency (pitch) of about 8000 Hz at an intensity of about  10-20 decibels. Not being able to hear these chirps and tweets may be an early indication of hearing loss.

Did you know: The ear’s malleus, incus and stapes (otherwise known as the hammer, anvil and stirrup) are the smallest bones in the human body. All three together could fit together on a penny.

We, at Southern ENT, believe in the early detection and identification of hearing loss and offer a variety of implantable solutions to suit your needs.  Please visit our website, stay in touch via our Facebook page and Twitter Account – allow us to help answer all your questions regarding sound and hearing.


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