Motorcycle Riders Have a Higher Risk of Hearing Loss

woman on motorcycle with helmet on.

Motorcycle enthusiasts frequently cite 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 effect of motorcycle speed and riding duration on hearing health was assessed in a detailed study performed by a hearing protection manufacturer in cooperation with a notable German automobile association. Alarmingly, at speeds of 62 or higher, for just 15 minutes, riders who don’t use hearing protection can suffer irreversible hearing damage.

Why do motorcycle riders get hearing loss?

While the notion of hearing loss may not come as a complete surprise, the leading culprit could. The greatest threat isn’t the roaring engine, contrary to the common belief, it’s actually the wind. The research emphasized that even though helmets provide crucial protection during accidents, they fall short in safeguarding a biker’s hearing. Improvements to the helmet, like extra padding, vents, or weather stripping, do little to decrease the wind noise swirling around the rider.

Bikers are often affected by a condition known as temporary threshold shift (TTS), which is triggered by frequent exposure to excessive noise levels. The more often you’re exposed to loud noise, the worse your TTS symptoms will become with this progressive condition. At first, TTS sufferers might notice minor symptoms like a temporary decrease in hearing clarity. However, over time, this condition can progress to permanent and irreversible hearing loss.

How do other noises compare to wind volume?

The German study sheds a lot of light on just how extreme 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, need to utilize ear protection by law if the volume exceeds 80 dB. This means that bikers riding at this speed without hearing protection are exposed to volume levels nearly 19% higher than what is regarded as safe in a work environment.

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

How to safeguard your hearing

Thankfully, safeguarding your hearing while riding is both simple and effective: use earplugs. Hearing specialists emphatically recommend making use of 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 in. It’s crucial for bikers to still be able to hear vital sounds like human voices, emergency warning sounds, and car horns.

Moreover, these modern earplugs allow bikers to enjoy the exhilaration of riding without feeling isolated 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.

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 generated at high speeds can cause considerable and permanent hearing damage in a really short time period. However, with the basic addition of quality earplugs, bikers can continue to enjoy their rides while safeguarding their long-term hearing health.

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.