Motorcycle Riders Have a Higher 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 to ride motorcycles. However, if you’re a passionate rider, you should be aware of a substantial risk: research has connected this thrilling hobby to irreversible hearing damage.

A comprehensive study carried out by a notable 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 results were startling: bikers can suffer permanent hearing damage after just 15 minutes of riding without earplugs at a speed of 62 mph.

What causes hearing loss in motorcyclists?

You might not be surprised that bikers frequently suffer from hearing loss, but you may be surprised as to why. Despite what many believe, it’s not the motorcycle’s roaring engine but instead, the wind that poses the greatest threat. The research emphasized that even though 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 very much even when a helmet has added padding, vents, or other improvements.

Motorcyclists are often impacted 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. Individuals who are coping with TTS might begin to detect that their hearing is less clear or other minor symptoms. However, over time, this condition can advance to permanent and irreversible hearing loss.

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 be as high as 95 (dB) at 62 mph. Workers in Europe, for example, need to use ear protection by law if the volume goes beyond 80 dB. Bikers are experiencing volume levels up to 19% higher than safe working environments when traveling at this speed.

And the noise level only gets louder as the speed goes up. Hearing damage can happen after just 7 minutes of riding at 74 mph which produces wind volumes of 98 dB. Other studies corroborate these findings, suggesting that bikers are indeed at a substantial risk of hearing loss.

How to safeguard your hearing

The good news is, it’s simple to protect your hearing with earplugs. Most people are familiar with the old standard earplugs, but hearing specialists recommend the filtered versions instead. These advanced 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, sirens, and car horns.

Bikers are also able to get the total 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 damaging wind noise while still enjoying the thrill of the ride by utilizing filtered earplugs.

It is possible to enjoy the excitement 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 really short time period. But bikers can protect their long-term hearing while still enjoying the ride by simply utilizing 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.