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 people love to ride motorcycles. But this exhilarating hobby comes at a high risk of irreversible hearing damage for individuals who ride a lot.

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

Why do motorcycle riders get hearing loss?

You might not be surprised that bikers frequently suffer from loss of hearing, but you may be surprised as to why. The biggest threat isn’t the roaring engine, contrary to the common belief, it’s actually the wind. The research highlighted that even though helmets offer crucial protection during crashes, they fall short in protecting a biker’s hearing. Enhancements to the helmet, such as extra padding, vents, or weather stripping, do little to mitigate the wind noise whirling around the rider.

Frequent exposure to excessive noise levels often leaves bikers with a condition known as temporary threshold shift (TTS). TTS is a progressive condition, meaning the more you’re exposed to loud noises, the worse the symptoms can get. Individuals who are coping with TTS might start to detect that their hearing is less clear or other minor symptoms. But irreversible hearing loss can, over time, be the outcome.

Comparing wind noise with other noise levels

To comprehend the seriousness of wind noise while riding, the German study’s findings are illuminating. The wind noise around a rider’s head can reach 95 (dB) at 62 mph. For context, European Union (EU) law mandates that workers need to safeguard their ears if exposed to volume levels higher than 80 dB. Bikers are enduring noise levels up to 19% higher than safe working environments when riding at this speed.

As the speed increases, so does the volume level. At 74 mph, wind noise can reach 98 dB, a level that can trigger hearing damage after just 7 minutes of exposure. Other studies validate these findings, suggesting that bikers are indeed at a considerable risk of hearing loss.

Protecting your ears

Thankfully, protecting your hearing while riding is both easy and effective: use earplugs. Most people are familiar with the old basic earplugs, but hearing specialists recommend the filtered versions instead. These sophisticated earplugs are designed to safeguard your eardrums from high-pitched noises like wind while still allowing lower frequency sounds to get in. This means you’re able to hear crucial sounds like sirens, horns, and human speech, which are vital for a biker’s safety.

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

While the passion for motorcycling is fueled by the appeal of speed and freedom, it’s essential to recognize and mitigate the associated hazards to your hearing. Significant and permanent hearing damage can be caused by the noise of wind at high speeds. However, with the simple addition of quality earplugs, bikers can continue to enjoy their rides while protecting their long-term hearing health.

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.