woman on motorcycle with helmet on.

Love of the open road and the thrill of speed top the list of reasons why individuals love riding motorcycles. But this exhilarating hobby comes at a high risk of irreversible hearing damage for individuals who ride a lot.

An in depth study conducted by a prominent German automobile association in collaboration with a maker of hearing protection solutions examined the effect of riding time and motorcycle speed on hearing health. The conclusions were alarming: bikers can suffer irreversible hearing damage after only 15 minutes of riding without earplugs at a speed of 62 mph.

Why do motorcycle riders get hearing loss?

You might not be surprised that bikers often suffer from hearing loss, but you may be surprised as to why. In spite of what many believe, it’s not the motorcycle’s roaring engine but rather, the wind that presents the greatest hazard. Even though helmets provide significant protection from injury during crashes, the research highlights that they fall short in protecting the rider’s hearing. Enhancements to the helmet, like added padding, vents, or weather stripping, do little to reduce the wind noise whirling around the rider.

Motorcyclists are often impacted by a condition known as temporary threshold shift (TTS), which results from regular exposure to extreme noise levels. The more often you are exposed to loud noise, the more intense your TTS symptoms will become with this progressive condition. At first, TTS sufferers may notice minor symptoms like a temporary reduction in hearing clarity. However, over time, this condition can advance to permanent and irreversible hearing loss.

Comparing wind volume with other noise levels

To comprehend the severity of wind noise while riding, the German study’s conclusions are illuminating. At 62 mph, the wind around a biker’s head produces noise levels reaching 95 decibels (dB). Workers in Europe, for instance, need to use hearing protection by law if the volume exceeds 80 dB. This means that bikers riding at this speed without ear protection are exposed to noise levels nearly 19% higher than what is regarded as 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 cause hearing damage after only 7 minutes of exposure. Other studies corroborate these findings, suggesting that bikers are indeed at a substantial risk of hearing loss.

Protecting your ears

Thankfully, safeguarding your hearing while riding is both simple and effective: use earplugs. Hearing specialists emphatically recommend using filtered earplugs, which are far superior to the old, uncomfortable versions many are familiar with. These advanced earplugs are designed to safeguard your eardrums from high-frequency noises like wind while still allowing lower frequency sounds to get in. It’s important for bikers to still be able to hear vital sounds like human voices, emergency warning sounds, and car horns.

Bikers are also able to get the complete experience of riding without feeling isolated or cut off from the outside world which can’t be said for the old traditional style. With filtered earplugs, you can continue to experience the thrill of the ride while protecting 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 hearing safe from wind noise. Considerable and irreversible 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 pair of quality earplugs.

Stay on top of your hearing health by calling us to talk about 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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