Motorcycle Riders Have an Increased Risk of 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 individuals love riding motorcycles. However, if you’re a devoted rider, you should be aware of a significant risk: research has linked this thrilling hobby to permanent hearing damage.

The impact of motorcycle speed and riding time on hearing health was examined in a comprehensive study performed by a hearing protection maker in cooperation with a prominent German automobile association. Alarmingly, at speeds of 62 or higher, for only 15 minutes, riders who don’t utilize 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 roaring engine, contrary to the common belief, it’s actually the wind. While helmets offer considerable protection from injury during crashes, the research highlights that they fall short in protecting the rider’s hearing. Enhancements to the helmet, like extra padding, vents, or weather stripping, do little to mitigate the wind noise whirling around the rider.

Bikers are frequently affected by a condition known as temporary threshold shift (TTS), which is triggered by frequent exposure to extreme noise levels. The more frequently you’re exposed to loud noise, the worse your TTS symptoms will be with this progressive condition. At first, TTS sufferers may detect minor symptoms like a temporary decrease in hearing clarity. But irreversible hearing loss can, over time, be the result.

Comparing wind noise with other noise levels

To comprehend the seriousness 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). Workers in Europe, for instance, have to use hearing protection by law if the volume exceeds 80 dB. This means that bikers riding at this speed without ear protection are exposed to volume levels nearly 19% higher than what is considered safe in a work environment.

As the speed goes up, so does the noise level. Hearing damage can take place after only 7 minutes of riding at 74 mph which generates wind volumes of 98 dB. Many studies confirm that bikers are indeed at significant risk of irreversible hearing loss.

Safeguarding your ears

Fortunately, protecting your hearing while riding is both easy and effective: use earplugs. Most individuals are familiar with the old basic earplugs, but hearing specialists recommend the filtered versions instead. Filtered earplugs are a more sophisticated model that filters out high frequencies like wind while allowing lower frequencies to get in. This means you can hear essential sounds like sirens, horns, and human speech, which are critical for a biker’s safety.

Furthermore, these modern earplugs allow bikers to enjoy the exhilaration of riding without feeling isolated or numb, a common drawback of older protective devices. With filtered earplugs, you can continue to experience the thrill of the ride while safeguarding your hearing from the damaging effects of wind noise.

While the passion for motorcycling is powered by the appeal of speed and freedom, it’s essential to recognize and mitigate the associated risks to your hearing. Considerable and irreversible hearing damage can be caused by the noise of wind at high speeds. But bikers can protect 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.