Why Are Motorcycle Riders at an Increased Risk for Hearing Loss?

woman on motorcycle with helmet on.

Love of the open road and the thrill of speed top the list of reasons why people love riding motorcycles. However, if you’re a devoted rider, you should be aware of a significant risk: research has linked this thrilling hobby to irreversible hearing damage.

The effect of motorcycle speed and riding duration on hearing health was examined in a detailed study performed by a hearing protection maker in cooperation with a prominent German automobile association. The conclusions were alarming: bikers can suffer permanent hearing damage after just 15 minutes of riding without hearing protection at a speed of 62 mph.

Why do bikers get hearing loss?

You may not be surprised that bikers frequently suffer from hearing loss, but you might be surprised as to why. The greatest threat isn’t the roaring engine, contrary to the common belief, it’s actually the wind. Although helmets provide considerable protection from injury during crashes, the research highlights that they fall short in safeguarding the rider’s hearing. Enhancements to the helmet, such as additional padding, vents, or weather stripping, do little to reduce the wind noise swirling around the rider.

Frequent exposure to excessive noise levels often leaves bikers with a condition called temporary threshold shift (TTS). The more frequently you’re exposed to loud noise, the worse your TTS symptoms will become with this progressive condition. Individuals who are coping with TTS might begin to detect that their hearing is less clear or other minor symptoms. But irreversible hearing loss can, over time, be the result.

Comparing wind noise with other noise levels

To comprehend the severity of wind noise while riding, the German study’s results are illuminating. The wind noise around a rider’s head can reach 95 (dB) at 62 mph. Workers in Europe, for example, have to use ear protection by law if the volume exceeds 80 dB. Bikers are enduring volume levels up to 19% higher than safe working environments when traveling at this speed.

And the noise level only increases as the speed goes up. Hearing damage can occur 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.

How to protect your hearing

The good news is, it’s easy to protect your hearing with earplugs. Hearing specialists emphatically recommend making use of filtered earplugs, which are far superior to the old, uncomfortable versions many are familiar with. These sophisticated earplugs are designed to safeguard your eardrums from high-pitched noises like wind while still allowing lower frequency sounds to get in. This means you can hear crucial sounds like sirens, horns, and human speech, which are vital 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 protecting your hearing from the damaging effects of wind noise.

While the passion for motorcycling is motivated by the allure of speed and freedom, it’s essential to acknowledge and minimize the associated risks to your hearing. The wind noise generated at high speeds can cause substantial and irreversible hearing damage in a really short time period. 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 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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