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 are at the top of the list of reasons why people love riding motorcycles. However, if you’re an avid rider, you should be aware of a significant risk: research has linked this thrilling hobby to permanent hearing damage.

A comprehensive study conducted by a notable German automobile association in partnership with a manufacturer of hearing protection solutions examined the impact of riding duration and motorcycle speed on hearing health. Alarmingly, at speeds of 62 or higher, for only 15 minutes, riders who don’t make use of hearing protection can suffer irreversible hearing damage.

What causes hearing loss in bikers?

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

Regular exposure to excessive 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 be with this progressive condition. People who are coping with TTS might start 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.

Comparing wind noise with other noise levels

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

And the noise level only increases as the speed goes up. Hearing damage can happen after just 7 minutes of riding at 74 mph which generates wind volumes of 98 dB. Many studies corroborate that bikers are indeed at substantial risk of irreversible hearing loss.

Safeguarding your ears

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

Furthermore, these modern earplugs let bikers enjoy the exhilaration of riding without feeling cut off or numb, a common downside of older protective devices. You can safeguard your ears from harmful wind noise while still experiencing the thrill of the ride by using filtered earplugs.

It is possible to enjoy the excitement of speed and the freedom of the open road while still keeping your hearing safe from wind noise. The wind noise created at high speeds can cause considerable 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 discuss hearing protection.

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.