Purpose

This study examined the effects of age and gender on wideband energy absorbance in adults with normal middle ear function.

Method

Forty young adults (14 men, 26 women, aged 20–38 years), 31 middle-aged adults (16 men, 15 women, aged 42–64 years), and 30 older adults (20 men, 10 women, aged 65–82 years) were assessed. Energy absorbance (EA) data were collected at 30 frequencies using a prototype commercial instrument developed by Interacoustics.

Results

Results showed that the young adult group had significantly lower EA (between 400 and 560 Hz) than the middle-aged group. However, the middle-aged group showed significantly lower EA (between 2240 and 5040 Hz) than the young adult group. In addition, the older adult group had significantly lower EA than the young adult group (between 2520 and 5040 Hz). No significant difference in EA was found at any frequency between middle-aged and older adults. Across age groups, gender differences were found with men having significantly higher EA values than women at lower frequencies, whereas women had significantly higher EA at higher frequencies.

Conclusions

This study provides evidence of the influence of gender and age on EA in adults with normal outer and middle ear function. These findings support the importance of establishing age- and gender-specific EA norms for the adult population.

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