People Who Ride Motorcycles Have a Higher Risk of Hearing Loss

woman on motorcycle with helmet on.

Motorcycle enthusiasts frequently mention the thrill of speed and the love for the open road as the primary reasons behind their enthusiasm. However, if you’re an avid rider, you should be aware of a substantial risk: research has connected this exhilarating hobby to permanent hearing damage.

An in depth study carried out by a notable German automobile association in collaboration with a manufacturer of hearing protection solutions examined the impact of riding duration and motorcycle speed on hearing health. The findings 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 notion of hearing loss may not come as a complete surprise, the primary culprit might. The greatest threat isn’t the raging engine, contrary to the common belief, it’s really the wind. Even though helmets provide considerable protection from injury during crashes, the research stresses that they fall short in safeguarding the rider’s hearing. The wind noise whipping around the rider’s head isn’t reduced very much even when a helmet has extra padding, vents, or other improvements.

Motorcyclists are frequently affected by a condition called temporary threshold shift (TTS), which results from frequent exposure to excessive noise levels. TTS is a progressive condition, meaning the more you are exposed to loud noises, the more intense the symptoms can become. At first, TTS sufferers might notice minor symptoms like a temporary decrease in hearing clarity. However, over time, this condition can advance to permanent and irreversible hearing loss.

How do other noises compare to wind noise?

To comprehend the severity of wind noise while riding, the German study’s findings are illuminating. At 62 mph, the wind around a biker’s head generates 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 noise levels higher than 80 dB. Bikers are experiencing noise levels up to 19% higher than safe working environments when riding at this speed.

And the noise level only gets louder as the speed goes up. At 74 mph, wind noise can reach 98 dB, a level that can trigger hearing damage after just 7 minutes of exposure. Many studies confirm that bikers are indeed at significant risk of irreversible hearing loss.

How to protect your hearing

Luckily, it’s easy to protect your hearing with earplugs. Hearing specialists strongly recommend utilizing filtered earplugs, which are far superior to the old, uncomfortable versions most people are familiar with. Filtered earplugs are a more sophisticated model that filters out high frequencies like wind while allowing lower frequencies to get in. It’s important for bikers to still be able to hear important sounds like human voices, emergency warning sounds, and car horns.

Bikers are also able to get the total experience of riding without feeling isolated or cut off from the external 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 fueled by the appeal of speed and freedom, it’s essential to acknowledge and mitigate the associated risks to your hearing. The wind noise produced at high speeds can cause significant and irreversible hearing damage in a very short time. But bikers can protect their long-term hearing while still enjoying the ride by simply utilizing a pair of quality earplugs.

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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