Why Are Motorcycle Riders at an Increased Risk for Hearing Loss?

woman on motorcycle with helmet on.

Love of the open road and the thrill of speed top the list of reasons why individuals love to ride motorcycles. But this invigorating hobby comes at a high risk of permanent hearing damage for people who ride a lot.

The impact of motorcycle speed and riding duration on hearing health was evaluated in a comprehensive study conducted by a hearing protection manufacturer in collaboration with a notable German automobile association. The results were alarming: bikers can suffer permanent hearing damage after just 15 minutes of riding without hearing protection at a speed of 62 mph.

What causes hearing loss in bikers?

While the concept of hearing loss may not be surprising, the leading culprit could. The greatest threat isn’t the raging engine, contrary to the common belief, it’s really the wind. Even though helmets offer significant protection from injury during crashes, the research highlights that they fall short in safeguarding the rider’s hearing. Enhancements to the helmet, like added padding, vents, or weather stripping, do little to reduce the wind noise whirling around the rider.

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

How do other noises compare to wind noise?

The German study sheds a lot of light on just how severe wind noise can be while riding. At 62 mph, the wind around a biker’s head creates noise levels reaching 95 decibels (dB). To put into context, European Union (EU) law mandates that workers need to protect their ears if exposed to volume 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 increases as the speed goes up. At 74 mph, wind volume can reach 98 dB, a level that can trigger hearing damage after only 7 minutes of exposure. Other studies validate these findings, suggesting that bikers are indeed at a substantial risk of hearing loss.

Protecting your ears

Luckily, it’s simple to safeguard your hearing with earplugs. Hearing specialists emphatically recommend using filtered earplugs, which are far superior to the old, uncomfortable versions most people are familiar with. These advanced earplugs are manufactured to safeguard your eardrums from high-pitched noises like wind while still allowing lower frequency sounds to penetrate. It’s important for bikers to still be able to hear important sounds like human voices, emergency warning sounds, and car horns.

Furthermore, these modern earplugs allow bikers to enjoy the exhilaration of riding without feeling isolated or numb, a common disadvantage of older protective devices. You can safeguard your ears from harmful wind noise while still enjoying the thrill of the ride by utilizing filtered earplugs.

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

Give us a call today to find out 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.