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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 enthusiasm. But this exciting hobby comes at a high risk of permanent hearing damage for individuals who ride a lot.

The impact of motorcycle speed and riding duration on hearing health was assessed in a detailed study conducted by a hearing protection manufacturer in collaboration with a prominent German automobile association. Alarmingly, at speeds of 62 or higher, for just 15 minutes, riders who don’t make use of hearing protection can suffer permanent hearing damage.

What causes hearing loss in bikers?

While the concept of hearing loss may not be surprising, the primary culprit might. The greatest threat isn’t the raging engine, contrary to the common belief, it’s really the wind. The research emphasized that although helmets offer critical protection during accidents, they fall short in safeguarding a biker’s hearing. Improvements to the helmet, such as added padding, vents, or weather stripping, do little to mitigate the wind noise swirling around the rider.

Frequent exposure to excessive noise levels often leaves bikers with a condition called temporary threshold shift (TTS). The more often you are exposed to loud noise, the worse your TTS symptoms will be with this progressive condition. Initially, TTS sufferers might detect minor symptoms like a temporary reduction in hearing clarity. But permanent hearing loss can, over time, be the result.

Comparing wind volume with other noise levels

The German study sheds a lot of light on just how extreme wind noise can be while riding. At 62 mph, the wind around a biker’s head creates noise levels reaching 95 decibels (dB). Workers in Europe, for example, need to utilize hearing protection by law if the volume exceeds 80 dB. Bikers are enduring 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 cause hearing damage after only 7 minutes of exposure. Other studies validate these findings, indicating that bikers are indeed at a considerable risk of hearing loss.

Safeguarding your ears

Luckily, it’s easy to protect 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 designed to safeguard 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 vital sounds like human voices, sirens, and car horns.

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 protect your ears from harmful wind noise while still enjoying 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 important 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 very short time period. However, with the basic addition of quality earplugs, bikers can continue to enjoy their rides while safeguarding their long-term hearing health.

Give us a call today to learn more about hearing protection so you can stay on top of your hearing health.

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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.
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