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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 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 assessed in a detailed study performed 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 utilize hearing protection can suffer permanent hearing damage.

What causes hearing loss in bikers?

You might not be surprised that bikers frequently suffer from hearing loss, but you may be surprised as to why. In spite of what many believe, it’s not the motorcycle’s roaring engine but instead, the wind that presents the biggest hazard. The research emphasized that although helmets offer critical protection during crashes, they fall short in safeguarding a biker’s hearing. The wind noise whipping around the rider’s head isn’t reduced much even when a helmet has added padding, vents, or other modifications.

Regular exposure to excessive noise levels often leaves bikers with a condition known as temporary threshold shift (TTS). TTS is a progressive condition, meaning the more you’re exposed to loud noises, the more intense the symptoms can become. At first, TTS sufferers might notice minor symptoms like a temporary decrease in hearing clarity. But permanent hearing loss can, over time, be the outcome.

How do other noises compare to wind volume?

To comprehend the seriousness 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). For context, European Union (EU) law mandates that workers need to safeguard their ears if exposed to noise levels higher than 80 dB. Bikers are enduring noise levels up to 19% higher than safe working environments when traveling at this speed.

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

Protecting your ears

Thankfully, safeguarding your hearing while riding is both simple and effective: use earplugs. Hearing specialists emphatically recommend using filtered earplugs, which are far better than the old, uncomfortable versions many are familiar with. Filtered earplugs are a more advanced model that filters out high frequencies like wind while allowing lower frequencies to get in. This means you’re able to hear essential sounds like sirens, horns, and human speech, which are vital for a biker’s safety.

Furthermore, these modern earplugs allow bikers to enjoy the sensations of riding without feeling cut off or numb, a common downside of older protective devices. With filtered earplugs, you can continue to enjoy the thrill of the ride while safeguarding your hearing from the harmful effects of wind noise.

While the passion for motorcycling is fueled by the appeal of speed and freedom, it’s crucial to recognize and mitigate the associated risks to your hearing. The wind noise generated at high speeds can cause significant 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 protecting their long-term hearing health.

Give us a call today to find out 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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