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 passion. But this exciting hobby comes at a high risk of irreversible hearing damage for individuals who ride a lot.

The effect of motorcycle speed and riding time on hearing health was evaluated in a comprehensive study carried out by a hearing protection maker in cooperation with a prominent German automobile association. The results were alarming: bikers can suffer irreversible hearing damage after only 15 minutes of riding without earplugs at a speed of 62 mph.

Why do bikers get hearing loss?

While the idea of hearing loss may not come as a complete surprise, the primary culprit might. Contrary to what many think, it’s not the motorcycle’s roaring engine but instead, the wind that poses the biggest hazard. The research emphasized that even though helmets offer critical protection during accidents, they fall short in protecting a biker’s hearing. Enhancements to the helmet, such as additional padding, vents, or weather stripping, do little to mitigate the wind noise swirling around the rider.

Regular exposure to excessive noise levels often leaves bikers with a condition known as temporary threshold shift (TTS). The more often you’re exposed to loud noise, the worse your TTS symptoms will become with this progressive condition. At first, TTS sufferers may detect 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 volume?

To comprehend the seriousness of wind noise while riding, the German study’s results are illuminating. The wind noise around a rider’s head can be as high as 95 (dB) at 62 mph. 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 regarded as safe in a work environment.

And the volume level only increases as the speed increases. Hearing damage can happen after just 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 permanent hearing loss.

How to safeguard your hearing

Luckily, it’s easy to safeguard your hearing with earplugs. Hearing specialists emphatically recommend making use of filtered earplugs, which are far better than the old, uncomfortable versions most people are familiar with. These sophisticated earplugs are manufactured to protect your eardrums from high-frequency noises like wind while still allowing lower frequency sounds to penetrate. It’s crucial for bikers to still be able to hear important sounds like human voices, emergency warning sounds, and car horns.

Moreover, these modern earplugs allow bikers to enjoy the exhilaration of riding without feeling cut off or numb, a common disadvantage of older protective devices. You can safeguard your ears from damaging wind noise while still enjoying the thrill of the ride by utilizing filtered earplugs.

While the passion for motorcycling is motivated by the allure of speed and freedom, it’s essential to recognize and minimize the associated risks to your hearing. The wind noise produced at high speeds can cause considerable and irreversible hearing damage in a really short time. But bikers can protect their long-term hearing while still enjoying the ride by simply utilizing a set of quality earplugs.

Stay on top of your hearing health by contacting 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.