People Who Ride Motorcycles Have a Higher Risk of Hearing Loss

woman on motorcycle with helmet on.

Love of the open road and the thrill of speed are at the top of the list of reasons why individuals love to ride motorcycles. However, if you’re a devoted rider, you should be aware of a substantial risk: research has connected this exhilarating hobby to permanent hearing damage.

An in depth study conducted by a notable German automobile association in collaboration with a maker of hearing protection solutions evaluated the effect of riding duration and motorcycle speed on hearing health. Alarmingly, at speeds of 62 or higher, for just 15 minutes, riders who don’t use hearing protection can suffer irreversible hearing damage.

What causes hearing loss in bikers?

While the idea of hearing loss may not come as a complete surprise, the leading culprit might. Despite what many believe, it isn’t the motorcycle’s roaring engine but instead, the wind that presents the biggest threat. While helmets offer considerable protection from injury during crashes, the research highlights that they fall short in safeguarding the rider’s hearing. The wind noise whipping around the rider’s head isn’t decreased much even when a helmet has extra padding, vents, or other improvements.

Frequent exposure to extreme noise levels often leaves bikers with a condition called temporary threshold shift (TTS). The more frequently you’re exposed to loud noise, the worse your TTS symptoms will become with this progressive condition. People who are dealing with TTS might begin to notice that their hearing is less clear or other minor symptoms. But irreversible hearing loss can, over time, be the result.

Comparing wind volume with other noise levels

To comprehend the severity of wind noise while riding, the German study’s results are illuminating. At 62 mph, the wind around a biker’s head produces noise levels reaching 95 decibels (dB). To put into context, European Union (EU) law mandates that workers need to safeguard their ears if exposed to noise levels exceeding 80 dB. Bikers are experiencing volume levels up to 19% higher than safe working environments when traveling at this speed.

And the volume level only gets louder as the speed increases. At 74 mph, wind volume can reach 98 dB, a level that can trigger hearing damage after just 7 minutes of exposure. Many studies corroborate that bikers are indeed at substantial risk of irreversible hearing loss.

How to safeguard your hearing

The good news is, it’s easy to protect your hearing with earplugs. Hearing specialists emphatically recommend utilizing filtered earplugs, which are far better than 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 through. This means you’re able to hear essential sounds like sirens, horns, and human speech, which are vital for a biker’s safety.

Bikers are also able to get the complete experience of riding without feeling isolated or cut off from the outside world which can’t be said for the old traditional style. With filtered earplugs, you can continue to enjoy the thrill of the ride while protecting your hearing from the damaging effects of wind noise.

While the passion for motorcycling is motivated by the appeal of speed and freedom, it’s crucial to acknowledge and minimize the associated hazards to your hearing. The wind noise produced 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 utilizing a set of quality earplugs.

Give us a call today to learn more about hearing protection so you can keep 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.