Motorcycle Riders Have an Increased 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 driving force behind their passion. However, if you’re a passionate rider, you should know about a substantial risk: research has linked this thrilling hobby to permanent hearing damage.

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

Why do motorcycle riders get hearing loss?

While the concept of hearing loss may not be surprising, the main culprit could. The biggest threat isn’t the roaring engine, contrary to the common belief, it’s actually the wind. While helmets provide significant protection from injury during crashes, the research stresses that they fall short in safeguarding the rider’s hearing. The wind noise beating around the rider’s head isn’t reduced much even when a helmet has extra padding, vents, or other improvements.

Bikers are often affected by a condition known as temporary threshold shift (TTS), which results from frequent exposure to excessive noise levels. TTS is a progressive condition, which means the more you are exposed to loud noises, the more intense the symptoms can get. Individuals who are dealing with TTS might start to detect that their hearing is less clear or other minor symptoms. However, over time, this condition can progress 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 conclusions are illuminating. The wind noise around a rider’s head can be as high as 95 (dB) at 62 mph. Workers in Europe, for example, 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 considered safe in a work environment.

As the speed increases, so does the noise level. At 74 mph, wind noise can reach 98 dB, a level that can cause hearing damage after only 7 minutes of exposure. Many studies corroborate that bikers are indeed at substantial risk of permanent hearing loss.

Safeguarding your ears

Fortunately, protecting your hearing while riding is both simple and effective: use 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 advanced model that filters out high frequencies like wind while allowing lower frequencies to get in. This means you’re able to hear essential sounds like sirens, horns, and human speech, which are vital for a biker’s safety.

Furthermore, these modern earplugs let bikers enjoy the sensations of riding without feeling cut off or numb, a common downside of older protective devices. You can protect your ears from damaging wind noise while still enjoying the thrill of the ride by making use of filtered earplugs.

While the passion for motorcycling is powered by the allure of speed and freedom, it’s important to recognize and mitigate the associated hazards to your hearing. Substantial 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 utilizing a set of quality earplugs.

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