New research sheds light on how well we hear today compared to our counterparts 40 years ago. The findings may surprise you.
Turns out, we hear better than people did 40 years ago. So much for the theory that music fans of the rock era would have worse hearing.
Researchers compared hearing data gathered from two surveys: one from 1959-1964 and one from 1999-2004. Both surveys tested the hearing of randomly selected people between the ages of 25 and 64.
The comparison shows men and women today across the age spectrum have better hearing than their counterparts did 40 years ago.
Hearing is particularly better in the upper frequencies. Hearing loss in the upper frequencies makes it difficult to discern speech when there’s lots of background noise.
What should we attribute our better hearing to? A few things are responsible, including better health care for conditions that are linked to hearing loss.
Another factor: the increase in hearing conservation programs in noisy workplaces due to the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 and the Hearing Conservation Amendment of 1983.
“The bottom line is that the people with really noisy jobs have to be using hearing protection and getting annual hearing tests,” said Robert Dobie, M.D., a co-author of the study. “I think there’s been a very definite change.”
Researchers from the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and the University of Texas Health Science Center conducted the research.