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 people love riding motorcycles. However, if you’re a passionate rider, you should be aware of a substantial risk: research has linked this thrilling hobby to permanent hearing damage.

The impact of motorcycle speed and riding duration on hearing health was evaluated in a detailed study performed by a hearing protection maker in collaboration with a prominent German automobile association. The conclusions were startling: bikers can suffer permanent hearing damage after just 15 minutes of riding without earplugs at a speed of 62 mph.

Why do bikers get hearing loss?

While the concept of hearing loss might not come as a complete surprise, the main culprit could. Contrary to what many think, it’s not the motorcycle’s roaring engine but instead, the wind that presents the greatest hazard. While 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 much even when a helmet has added padding, vents, or other improvements.

Bikers are frequently impacted by a condition known as temporary threshold shift (TTS), which is triggered by regular exposure to excessive noise levels. TTS is a progressive condition, which means the more you’re exposed to loud noises, the more intense the symptoms can become. Initially, TTS sufferers might notice minor symptoms like a temporary decrease in hearing clarity. But permanent hearing loss can, over time, be the result.

How do other noises compare to wind volume?

To understand the severity of wind noise while riding, the German study’s results are illuminating. At 62 mph, the wind around a biker’s head generates noise levels reaching 95 decibels (dB). Workers in Europe, for example, need to use ear protection by law if the volume goes beyond 80 dB. Bikers are experiencing noise levels up to 19% higher than safe working environments when riding at this speed.

And the noise level only gets louder as the speed increases. At 74 mph, wind volume can reach 98 dB, a level that can trigger hearing damage after only 7 minutes of exposure. Many studies corroborate that bikers are indeed at substantial risk of permanent hearing loss.

Safeguarding your ears

The good news is, it’s simple to protect your hearing with earplugs. Most individuals are familiar with the old basic earplugs, but hearing specialists recommend the filtered versions instead. Filtered earplugs are a more advanced model that filters out high frequencies like wind while allowing lower frequencies to get through. 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 total experience of riding without feeling isolated or cut off from the outside world which can’t be said for the old traditional style. You can safeguard your ears from harmful wind noise while still enjoying the thrill of the ride by using filtered earplugs.

While the passion for motorcycling is motivated by the appeal of speed and freedom, it’s crucial to recognize and minimize the associated hazards to your hearing. The wind noise created at high speeds can cause considerable and irreversible hearing damage in a really short time period. But bikers can protect their long-term hearing while still enjoying the ride by simply utilizing a set of quality earplugs.

Call today to learn more about hearing protection so you can stay 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.