Hearing Health Blog

woman on motorcycle with helmet on.

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

The impact of motorcycle speed and riding time on hearing health was evaluated in a comprehensive study carried out by a hearing protection maker in collaboration with a prominent German automobile association. Alarmingly, at speeds of 62 or higher, for only 15 minutes, riders who don’t use hearing protection can suffer permanent hearing damage.

What causes hearing loss in motorcyclists?

You might not be surprised that bikers often suffer from loss of hearing, but you may be surprised as to why. In spite of what many believe, it’s not the motorcycle’s roaring engine but instead, the wind that poses the biggest hazard. The research highlighted that although helmets provide crucial protection during accidents, they fall short in protecting a biker’s hearing. The wind noise beating around the rider’s head isn’t reduced very much even when a helmet has added padding, vents, or other improvements.

Frequent exposure to extreme noise levels often leaves bikers with a condition known as temporary threshold shift (TTS). The more frequently you’re exposed to loud noise, the more intense your TTS symptoms will become with this progressive condition. Initially, TTS sufferers may detect minor symptoms like a temporary decrease in hearing clarity. But permanent hearing loss can, over time, be the result.

Comparing wind volume with other noise levels

To understand the severity of wind noise while riding, the German study’s findings are illuminating. At 62 mph, the wind around a biker’s head produces noise levels reaching 95 decibels (dB). Workers in Europe, for instance, have to utilize ear protection by law if the volume exceeds 80 dB. This means that bikers traveling at this speed without ear protection are exposed to noise levels nearly 19% higher than what is considered safe in a work environment.

As the speed increases, so does the noise level. Hearing damage can take place after just 7 minutes of riding at 74 mph which produces wind volumes of 98 dB. Other studies validate these findings, indicating that bikers are indeed at a substantial risk of hearing loss.

Protecting your ears

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 through. It’s crucial for bikers to still be able to hear vital sounds like human voices, sirens, and car horns.

Moreover, these modern earplugs allow bikers to enjoy the exhilaration of riding without feeling isolated or numb, a common downside of older protective devices. You can protect your ears from harmful wind noise while still experiencing the thrill of the ride by making use of filtered earplugs.

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 irreversible hearing damage can be caused by the noise of wind at high speeds. But bikers can protect their long-term hearing while still enjoying the ride by simply using a set of quality earplugs.

Give us a call today to find out more about hearing protection so you can stay on top of your hearing health.

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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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