woman on motorcycle with helmet on.

Motorcycle enthusiasts often mention the thrill of speed and the love for the open road as the primary reasons behind their passion. But this exciting hobby comes at a high risk of permanent hearing damage for people who ride a lot.

A comprehensive study carried out by a prominent German automobile association in partnership with a maker of hearing protection solutions evaluated the impact of riding duration and motorcycle speed on hearing health. The results were startling: bikers can suffer permanent hearing damage after only 15 minutes of riding without hearing protection at a speed of 62 mph.

What causes hearing loss in bikers?

You may not be surprised that bikers often suffer from loss of hearing, but you might be surprised as to why. Despite what many think, it’s not the motorcycle’s roaring engine but rather, the wind that poses the greatest hazard. Even though helmets offer significant protection from injury during crashes, the research stresses that they fall short in safeguarding the rider’s hearing. The wind noise whipping around the rider’s head isn’t decreased very much even when a helmet has extra padding, vents, or other improvements.

Bikers are often affected by a condition known as temporary threshold shift (TTS), which results from frequent exposure to excessive noise levels. The more frequently you’re exposed to loud noise, the worse your TTS symptoms will become with this progressive condition. People who are coping with TTS might begin to notice that their hearing is less clear or other minor symptoms. However, over time, this condition can progress to permanent and irreversible hearing loss.

How do other noises compare to wind volume?

To grasp the seriousness of wind noise while riding, the German study’s conclusions are illuminating. The wind noise around a rider’s head can reach 95 (dB) at 62 mph. Workers in Europe, for example, need 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 volume levels nearly 19% higher than what is deemed safe in a work environment.

And the noise level only increases as the speed increases. At 74 mph, wind noise can reach 98 dB, a level that can cause hearing damage after just 7 minutes of exposure. Many studies confirm that bikers are indeed at considerable risk of permanent hearing loss.

Safeguarding your ears

Thankfully, protecting your hearing while riding is both simple and effective: use 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 in. It’s crucial for bikers to still be able to hear important sounds like human voices, sirens, and car horns.

Bikers are also able to get the complete experience of riding without feeling isolated or cut off from the external world which can’t be said for the old conventional style. You can protect your ears from harmful wind noise while still experiencing the thrill of the ride by utilizing filtered earplugs.

While the passion for motorcycling is powered by the appeal of speed and freedom, it’s crucial to recognize and mitigate the associated hazards to your hearing. The wind noise generated at high speeds can cause significant and irreversible hearing damage in a really short time. But bikers can safeguard their long-term hearing while still enjoying the ride by simply making use of a set of quality earplugs.

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