Motorcycle Riders Have an Increased Risk of Hearing Loss

woman on motorcycle with helmet on.

Motorcycle enthusiasts often cite the thrill of speed and the love for the open road as the primary reasons behind their enthusiasm. However, if you’re a devoted rider, you should be aware of a substantial risk: research has linked this exhilarating 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 maker in collaboration with a notable German automobile association. 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 may be surprised as to why. Despite what many think, it’s not the motorcycle’s roaring engine but instead, the wind that presents the greatest hazard. Even though helmets provide considerable 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 reduced very much even when a helmet has added padding, vents, or other modifications.

Bikers are often impacted by a condition called temporary threshold shift (TTS), which results from regular exposure to excessive noise levels. TTS is a progressive condition, meaning the more you’re exposed to loud noises, the worse the symptoms can become. At first, TTS sufferers might detect minor symptoms like a temporary reduction in hearing clarity. However, over time, this condition can advance to permanent and irreversible hearing loss.

Comparing wind noise with other noise levels

The German study sheds a lot of light on just how extreme wind noise can get while riding. At 62 mph, the wind around a biker’s head produces noise levels reaching 95 decibels (dB). To put into context, European Union (EU) law mandates that workers need to safeguard their ears if exposed to volume levels exceeding 80 dB. This means that bikers riding at this speed without hearing protection are exposed to volume levels nearly 19% higher than what is deemed safe in a work environment.

As the speed goes up, so does the noise level. Hearing damage can happen after only 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 irreversible hearing loss.

Protecting your ears

Fortunately, safeguarding your hearing while riding is both easy and effective: use earplugs. Hearing specialists emphatically recommend using filtered earplugs, which are far better than the old, uncomfortable versions most people are familiar with. 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. With filtered earplugs, you can continue to enjoy the thrill of the ride while safeguarding your hearing from the damaging effects of wind noise.

It is possible to enjoy the excitement of speed and the freedom of the open road while still keeping your ears safe from wind noise. Significant and permanent hearing damage can be caused by the noise of wind at high speeds. But bikers can safeguard their long-term hearing while still enjoying the ride by simply using a set of quality earplugs.

Give us a call today to learn more about hearing protection so you can stay 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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