Audio Life Hearing Center- Knoxville, TN

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 passion. However, if you’re a devoted rider, you should be aware of a substantial risk: research has connected this thrilling hobby to permanent hearing damage.

An in depth study conducted by a prominent German automobile association in collaboration with a manufacturer of hearing protection solutions evaluated the impact of riding duration and motorcycle speed on hearing health. The conclusions were alarming: bikers can suffer irreversible hearing damage after only 15 minutes of riding without earplugs at a speed of 62 mph.

What causes hearing loss in bikers?

While the concept of hearing loss might not come as a complete surprise, the primary culprit could. The biggest threat isn’t the raging engine, contrary to the common belief, it’s really the wind. The research emphasized that although helmets provide critical protection during accidents, they fall short in safeguarding a biker’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 modifications.

Motorcyclists are often impacted by a condition called temporary threshold shift (TTS), which is triggered by frequent exposure to excessive noise levels. TTS is a progressive condition, which means the more you are exposed to loud noises, the worse the symptoms can get. Individuals who are coping with TTS may start to notice that their hearing is less clear or other minor symptoms. 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 severe wind noise can get while riding. The wind noise around a rider’s head can reach 95 (dB) at 62 mph. For context, European Union (EU) law mandates that workers must protect their ears if exposed to volume levels exceeding 80 dB. This means that bikers traveling at this speed without ear protection are exposed to noise levels nearly 19% higher than what is deemed safe in a work environment.

As the speed goes up, so does the noise level. Hearing damage can occur after only 7 minutes of riding at 74 mph which produces wind volumes of 98 dB. Other studies validate these findings, suggesting that bikers are indeed at a considerable risk of hearing loss.

How to safeguard your hearing

Fortunately, safeguarding your hearing while riding is both easy and effective: use earplugs. Hearing specialists emphatically recommend making use of filtered earplugs, which are far better than the old, uncomfortable versions most people are familiar with. These sophisticated earplugs are manufactured to safeguard your eardrums from high-frequency noises like wind while still allowing lower frequency sounds to get in. This means you’re able to hear crucial sounds like sirens, horns, and human speech, which are vital for a biker’s safety.

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. With filtered earplugs, you can continue to enjoy the thrill of the ride while safeguarding your hearing from the damaging effects of wind noise.

It is possible to enjoy the thrill of speed and the freedom of the open road while still keeping your ears safe from wind noise. The wind noise generated at high speeds can cause considerable and irreversible hearing damage in a very short time. However, with the basic addition of quality earplugs, bikers can continue to enjoy their rides while protecting their long-term hearing health.

Stay on top of your hearing health by contacting us to discuss hearing protection.

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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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