People Who Ride Motorcycles Have a Higher Risk of Hearing Loss

woman on motorcycle with helmet on.

Motorcycle enthusiasts frequently cite the thrill of speed and the love for the open road as the primary reasons behind their passion. However, if you’re a devoted rider, you should know about a substantial risk: research has connected this stimulating hobby to irreversible hearing damage.

An extensive study done by a notable German automobile association in partnership with a maker of hearing protection solutions examined the impact of riding time and motorcycle speed on hearing health. Alarmingly, at speeds of 62 or higher, for only 15 minutes, riders who don’t make use of hearing protection can suffer permanent hearing damage.

Why do motorcycle riders get hearing loss?

While the idea of hearing loss might not be surprising, the main culprit could. The greatest threat isn’t the roaring engine, contrary to the common belief, it’s really the wind. The research emphasized that even though helmets provide crucial protection during accidents, they fall short in safeguarding a biker’s hearing. The wind noise beating around the rider’s head isn’t reduced very much even when a helmet has extra padding, vents, or other modifications.

Bikers are frequently impacted by a condition called temporary threshold shift (TTS), which results from regular exposure to excessive noise levels. The more often you are exposed to loud noise, the worse your TTS symptoms will become with this progressive condition. Initially, TTS sufferers may notice minor symptoms like a temporary decrease in hearing clarity. However, over time, this condition can advance to permanent and irreversible hearing loss.

How do other noises compare to wind noise?

The German study sheds a lot of light on just how extreme wind noise can be while riding. The wind noise around a rider’s head can be as high as 95 (dB) at 62 mph. Workers in Europe, for instance, need to utilize ear protection by law if the volume goes beyond 80 dB. This means that bikers riding at this speed without ear protection are exposed to noise levels nearly 19% higher than what is deemed safe in a work environment.

And the noise level only gets louder as the speed increases. At 74 mph, wind volume can reach 98 dB, a level that can trigger hearing damage after only 7 minutes of exposure. Other studies validate these findings, suggesting that bikers are indeed at a considerable risk of hearing loss.

Safeguarding your ears

The good news is, it’s easy to protect your hearing with earplugs. Hearing specialists strongly recommend using filtered earplugs, which are far superior to the old, uncomfortable versions many are familiar with. These advanced earplugs are manufactured to safeguard your eardrums from high-pitched noises like wind while still allowing lower frequency sounds to get in. This means you can hear essential sounds like sirens, horns, and human speech, which are vital for a biker’s safety.

Furthermore, these modern earplugs allow bikers to enjoy the exhilaration of riding without feeling isolated or numb, a common disadvantage of older protective devices. With filtered earplugs, you can continue to experience the thrill of the ride while safeguarding your hearing from the damaging effects of wind noise.

While the passion for motorcycling is fueled by the allure of speed and freedom, it’s crucial to recognize and mitigate the associated risks to your hearing. The wind noise created at high speeds can cause significant and permanent hearing damage in a really short time. However, with the simple addition of quality earplugs, bikers can continue to enjoy their rides while protecting their long-term hearing health.

Give us a call today to learn more about hearing protection so you can keep on top of your hearing health.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.


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