People Who Ride Motorcycles Have a Higher Risk of Hearing Loss

woman on motorcycle with helmet on.

Motorcycle enthusiasts often mention the thrill of speed and the love for the open road as the driving force behind their enthusiasm. However, if you’re an avid rider, you should be aware of a significant risk: research has linked this stimulating hobby to irreversible hearing damage.

The impact of motorcycle speed and riding time on hearing health was examined in a detailed study carried out by a hearing protection manufacturer in collaboration with a prominent German automobile association. The conclusions were startling: bikers can suffer permanent hearing damage after just 15 minutes of riding without hearing protection at a speed of 62 mph.

What causes hearing loss in bikers?

While the idea of hearing loss might not be surprising, the leading culprit might. In spite of what many think, it’s not the motorcycle’s roaring engine but rather, the wind that presents the biggest threat. Even though helmets provide significant protection from injury during crashes, the research stresses that they fall short in protecting the rider’s hearing. The wind noise whipping around the rider’s head isn’t decreased very much even when a helmet has added padding, vents, or other modifications.

Regular exposure to extreme noise levels often leaves bikers with a condition called temporary threshold shift (TTS). TTS is a progressive condition, which means the more you are exposed to loud noises, the worse the symptoms can get. At first, TTS sufferers might notice minor symptoms like a temporary decrease in hearing clarity. However, over time, this condition can progress to permanent and irreversible hearing loss.

Comparing wind volume with other noise levels

To grasp the seriousness of wind noise while riding, the German study’s findings are illuminating. The wind noise around a rider’s head can reach 95 (dB) at 62 mph. To put into context, European Union (EU) law mandates that workers must protect their ears if exposed to volume levels higher than 80 dB. Bikers are experiencing noise levels up to 19% higher than safe working environments when traveling at this speed.

And the noise level only increases as the speed increases. Hearing damage can occur after only 7 minutes of riding at 74 mph which generates wind volumes of 98 dB. Many studies confirm that bikers are indeed at substantial risk of irreversible hearing loss.

Safeguarding your ears

Fortunately, protecting 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 advanced model that filters out high frequencies like wind while allowing lower frequencies to get in. This means you can hear crucial sounds like sirens, horns, and human speech, which are critical for a biker’s safety.

Bikers are also able to get the total experience of riding without feeling isolated or cut off from the outside world which can’t be said for the old conventional style. You can safeguard your ears from damaging wind noise while still enjoying the thrill of the ride by utilizing filtered earplugs.

It is possible to enjoy the thrill of speed and the freedom of the open road while still keeping your hearing safe from wind noise. The wind noise generated at high speeds can cause significant and permanent hearing damage in a really short time. However, with the basic addition of quality earplugs, bikers can continue to enjoy their rides while safeguarding their long-term hearing health.

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

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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