woman on motorcycle with helmet on.

Motorcycle enthusiasts often cite the thrill of speed and the love for the open road as the driving force behind their enthusiasm. But this exhilarating hobby comes at a high risk of permanent hearing damage for people who ride a lot.

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

Why do motorcycle riders get hearing loss?

You may not be surprised that bikers frequently suffer from hearing loss, but you might be surprised as to why. The biggest threat isn’t the roaring engine, contrary to the common belief, it’s really the wind. Even though helmets offer significant protection from injury during crashes, the research stresses that they fall short in safeguarding the rider’s hearing. The wind noise beating around the rider’s head isn’t decreased very much even when a helmet has extra padding, vents, or other improvements.

Bikers are often affected by a condition called temporary threshold shift (TTS), which is triggered by frequent exposure to excessive noise levels. TTS is a progressive condition, meaning the more you are exposed to loud noises, the worse the symptoms can get. Initially, TTS sufferers might notice minor symptoms like a temporary reduction in hearing clarity. However, over time, this condition can advance to permanent and irreversible hearing loss.

How do other noises compare to wind volume?

To understand the seriousness of wind noise while riding, the German study’s findings are illuminating. 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 use ear protection by law if the volume exceeds 80 dB. Bikers are enduring noise levels up to 19% higher than safe working environments when riding at this speed.

As the speed goes up, so does the volume level. Hearing damage can take place after just 7 minutes of riding at 74 mph which produces wind volumes of 98 dB. Many studies corroborate that bikers are indeed at considerable risk of permanent hearing loss.

Safeguarding your ears

Thankfully, safeguarding your hearing while riding is both easy and effective: use earplugs. Most individuals are familiar with the old basic earplugs, but hearing specialists recommend the filtered versions instead. Filtered earplugs are a more sophisticated model that filters out high frequencies like wind while allowing lower frequencies to get in. This means you’re able to hear crucial sounds like sirens, horns, and human speech, which are vital for a biker’s safety.

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

While the passion for motorcycling is powered by the appeal of speed and freedom, it’s essential to recognize and mitigate the associated hazards to your hearing. Considerable and permanent hearing damage can be caused by the noise of wind at high speeds. However, with the simple addition of quality earplugs, bikers can continue to enjoy their rides while protecting their long-term hearing health.

Stay on top of your hearing health by contacting us to discuss hearing protection.

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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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