Why Are motorcycle riders at an Increased Risk for 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 enthusiasm. However, if you’re an avid rider, you should be aware of a substantial risk: research has connected this exhilarating hobby to irreversible hearing damage.

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

What causes hearing loss in motorcyclists?

While the idea of hearing loss may not be surprising, the main culprit might. In spite of what many think, it isn’t the motorcycle’s roaring engine but rather, the wind that poses the greatest threat. The research highlighted that although helmets offer critical protection during crashes, they fall short in protecting a biker’s hearing. The wind noise whipping around the rider’s head isn’t decreased much even when a helmet has added padding, vents, or other improvements.

Bikers are frequently impacted by a condition called temporary threshold shift (TTS), which is triggered by frequent exposure to extreme noise levels. TTS is a progressive condition, which means the more you’re exposed to loud noises, the more intense the symptoms can get. Initially, TTS sufferers might detect minor symptoms like a temporary decrease in hearing clarity. But irreversible hearing loss can, over time, be the outcome.

Comparing wind volume with other noise levels

To grasp the severity 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. Workers in Europe, for example, have to use hearing protection by law if the volume goes beyond 80 dB. Bikers are enduring volume levels up to 19% higher than safe working environments when riding at this speed.

As the speed goes up, so does the noise level. Hearing damage can occur after just 7 minutes of riding at 74 mph which produces wind volumes of 98 dB. Many studies confirm that bikers are indeed at substantial risk of permanent hearing loss.

How to safeguard your hearing

Fortunately, safeguarding 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 sophisticated model that filters out high frequencies like wind while allowing lower frequencies to get through. This means you can hear crucial sounds like sirens, horns, and human speech, which are critical for a biker’s safety.

Moreover, these modern earplugs let bikers enjoy the exhilaration of riding without feeling cut off or numb, a common drawback of older protective devices. You can protect your ears from damaging wind noise while still experiencing the thrill of the ride by using filtered earplugs.

It is possible to enjoy the thrill of speed and the freedom of the open road while still keeping your hearing safe from wind noise. The wind noise generated at high speeds can cause considerable and permanent hearing damage in a very short time period. But bikers can safeguard their long-term hearing while still enjoying the ride by simply using a pair 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.

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.