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Love of the open road and the thrill of speed top the list of reasons why people love to ride motorcycles. However, if you’re a devoted rider, you should know about a significant risk: research has linked this exhilarating hobby to permanent hearing damage.

The effect of motorcycle speed and riding time on hearing health was evaluated 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 only 15 minutes, riders who don’t make use of hearing protection can suffer permanent hearing damage.

Why do motorcycle riders get hearing loss?

You might not be surprised that bikers frequently suffer from loss of hearing, but you might be surprised as to why. The biggest threat isn’t the roaring engine, contrary to the common belief, it’s really the wind. The research highlighted that even though helmets provide critical protection during crashes, they fall short in safeguarding a biker’s hearing. Enhancements to the helmet, like additional padding, vents, or weather stripping, do little to decrease the wind noise swirling around the rider.

Bikers are often impacted by a condition called temporary threshold shift (TTS), which is triggered by regular exposure to excessive noise levels. The more frequently you’re exposed to loud noise, the more intense your TTS symptoms will become with this progressive condition. People who are dealing with TTS may begin 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.

How do other noises compare to wind noise?

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

As the speed increases, so does the volume level. At 74 mph, wind volume can reach 98 dB, a level that can trigger hearing damage after just 7 minutes of exposure. Other studies corroborate these findings, indicating that bikers are indeed at a substantial risk of hearing loss.

How to safeguard your hearing

Luckily, it’s easy to safeguard your hearing with earplugs. Most people are familiar with the old basic earplugs, but hearing specialists recommend the filtered versions instead. 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.

Bikers are also able to get the complete 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 safeguard your ears from harmful wind noise while still experiencing the thrill of the ride by utilizing filtered earplugs.

While the passion for motorcycling is motivated by the allure of speed and freedom, it’s crucial to recognize and mitigate the associated hazards to your hearing. The wind noise created at high speeds can cause significant and permanent hearing damage in a very short time. However, with the simple addition of quality earplugs, bikers can continue to enjoy their rides while protecting 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.