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 enthusiasm. However, if you’re a devoted rider, you should know about a significant risk: research has linked this stimulating hobby to permanent hearing damage.

The impact of motorcycle speed and riding time on hearing health was evaluated in a detailed study carried out by a hearing protection manufacturer in collaboration with a notable German automobile association. The conclusions were startling: bikers can suffer irreversible hearing damage after just 15 minutes of riding without earplugs at a speed of 62 mph.

Why do bikers get hearing loss?

You may not be surprised that bikers frequently suffer from hearing loss, but you might be surprised as to why. The biggest threat isn’t the roaring engine, contrary to the common belief, it’s actually the wind. Even though helmets provide significant protection from injury during crashes, the research stresses that they fall short in protecting the rider’s hearing. Improvements to the helmet, like extra padding, vents, or weather stripping, do little to decrease the wind noise swirling around the rider.

Frequent exposure to extreme noise levels often leaves bikers with a condition known as temporary threshold shift (TTS). TTS is a progressive condition, which means the more you are exposed to loud noises, the more intense the symptoms can get. At first, TTS sufferers may notice minor symptoms like a temporary decrease in hearing clarity. However, over time, this condition can advance to permanent and irreversible hearing loss.

Comparing wind volume with other noise levels

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

And the noise level only increases as the speed increases. Hearing damage can occur after only 7 minutes of riding at 74 mph which produces wind volumes of 98 dB. Other studies corroborate these findings, indicating that bikers are indeed at a considerable risk of hearing loss.

Protecting your ears

The good news is, it’s easy to safeguard your hearing with earplugs. Hearing specialists emphatically recommend using filtered earplugs, which are far better than the old, uncomfortable versions many are familiar with. These sophisticated earplugs are designed to safeguard your eardrums from high-pitched noises like wind while still allowing lower frequency sounds to penetrate. This means you can hear essential sounds like sirens, horns, and human speech, which are critical for a biker’s safety.

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 harmful effects of wind noise.

While the passion for motorcycling is fueled by the allure of speed and freedom, it’s important to recognize and minimize the associated hazards to your hearing. The wind noise generated at high speeds can cause significant and permanent hearing damage in a really short time period. But bikers can protect their long-term hearing while still enjoying the ride by simply making use of a pair of quality earplugs.

Stay on top of your hearing health by contacting us to discuss 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.
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