Age variation in the upper limit of hearing

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The upper limit of hearing was measured in 6105 otologically normal ears of subjects ranging in age from 5 to 89 years. The results are as follows: in each age group from 5 to 59 years in both sexes, the upper limit of hearing showed an approximately normal distribution if a logarithmic scale was used for the upper limit of hearing axis. The mode of the distribution shifted to a lower frequency with increasing age. Over age 60 years, the distribution became much wider. Standard upper limit age curves were established by calculating 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th and 90th percentiles for each age group. From early childhood where no age variation was recognized in conventional audiometry, deterioration of the upper limit of hearing was already in progress. This deterioration was slight between ages 25 and 39 but at ages over 40 it was accelerated and led to so-called presbycousis. The upper limit of hearing was found to be one of the best parameters for showing the quantitative age-related changes in hearing.