Why Are Motorcyclists 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 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.

An extensive study done by a notable German automobile association in partnership with a maker of hearing protection solutions examined the effect of riding time and motorcycle speed on hearing health. The findings 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?

You might not be surprised that bikers often suffer from hearing loss, but you might be surprised as to why. Despite what many believe, it isn’t the motorcycle’s roaring engine but rather, the wind that poses the biggest hazard. While helmets provide significant protection from injury during crashes, the research highlights that they fall short in safeguarding the rider’s hearing. The wind noise beating around the rider’s head isn’t decreased very much even when a helmet has added padding, vents, or other modifications.

Bikers are often affected by a condition called temporary threshold shift (TTS), which is triggered by regular exposure to excessive noise levels. TTS is a progressive condition, meaning the more you’re exposed to loud noises, the worse the symptoms can become. Individuals who are coping with TTS might start to detect that their hearing is less clear or other minor symptoms. But irreversible hearing loss can, over time, be the outcome.

How do other noises compare to wind volume?

The German study sheds a lot of light on just how severe wind noise can be while riding. At 62 mph, the wind around a biker’s head creates noise levels reaching 95 decibels (dB). Workers in Europe, for instance, have to utilize ear protection by law if the volume goes beyond 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.

And the volume level only increases as the speed goes up. Hearing damage can occur after just 7 minutes of riding at 74 mph which generates wind volumes of 98 dB. Other studies validate these findings, suggesting that bikers are indeed at a substantial risk of hearing loss.

Safeguarding your ears

Fortunately, protecting your hearing while riding is both easy and effective: use earplugs. Hearing specialists emphatically recommend making use of filtered earplugs, which are far better than the old, uncomfortable versions many are familiar with. Filtered earplugs are a more sophisticated model that filters out high frequencies like wind while allowing lower frequencies to get in. This means you’re able to hear crucial sounds like sirens, horns, and human speech, which are critical for a biker’s safety.

Moreover, these modern earplugs allow bikers to enjoy the sensations of riding without feeling cut off or numb, a common drawback of older protective devices. With filtered earplugs, you can continue to enjoy the thrill of the ride while safeguarding your hearing from the harmful effects of wind noise.

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. The wind noise produced at high speeds can cause considerable 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.

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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