People Who Ride Motorcycles Have an Increased Risk of Hearing Loss

woman on motorcycle with helmet on.

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 passionate rider, you should be aware of a substantial risk: research has linked this thrilling hobby to irreversible hearing damage.

The impact of motorcycle speed and riding time on hearing health was evaluated in a detailed study conducted by a hearing protection maker in cooperation with a prominent German automobile association. Alarmingly, at speeds of 62 or higher, for just 15 minutes, riders who don’t use hearing protection can suffer permanent hearing damage.

What causes hearing loss in motorcyclists?

While the idea of hearing loss might not come as a complete surprise, the primary culprit might. The greatest threat isn’t the roaring engine, contrary to the common belief, it’s really the wind. While helmets offer considerable protection from injury during crashes, the research stresses that they fall short in protecting the rider’s hearing. The wind noise beating around the rider’s head isn’t decreased very much even when a helmet has added padding, vents, or other modifications.

Bikers are frequently impacted by a condition called temporary threshold shift (TTS), which results from frequent exposure to excessive noise levels. TTS is a progressive condition, meaning the more you are exposed to loud noises, the more intense the symptoms can become. Individuals who are dealing with TTS may begin to detect that their hearing is less clear or other minor symptoms. But irreversible hearing loss can, over time, be the result.

How do other noises compare to wind volume?

The German study sheds a lot of light on just how severe wind noise can be while riding. At 62 mph, the wind around a biker’s head produces noise levels reaching 95 decibels (dB). To put into context, European Union (EU) law mandates that workers must protect their ears if exposed to noise levels higher than 80 dB. Bikers are enduring volume levels up to 19% higher than safe working environments when traveling at this speed.

As the speed goes up, so does the noise level. At 74 mph, wind volume can reach 98 dB, a level that can trigger hearing damage after only 7 minutes of exposure. Many studies confirm that bikers are indeed at substantial risk of permanent hearing loss.

Safeguarding your ears

The good news is, it’s easy to protect your hearing with earplugs. Most people are familiar with the old basic earplugs, but hearing specialists recommend the filtered versions instead. Filtered earplugs are a more advanced model that filters out high frequencies like wind while allowing lower frequencies to get through. It’s crucial for bikers to still be able to hear important sounds like human voices, sirens, and car horns.

Furthermore, these modern earplugs allow bikers to enjoy the exhilaration of riding without feeling isolated or numb, a common downside of older protective devices. You can safeguard your ears from damaging wind noise while still experiencing the thrill of the ride by using filtered earplugs.

While the passion for motorcycling is motivated by the appeal of speed and freedom, it’s essential to recognize and mitigate the associated risks to your hearing. Substantial and irreversible hearing damage can be caused by the noise of wind at high speeds. But bikers can safeguard their long-term hearing while still enjoying the ride by simply using a pair of quality earplugs.

Give us a call today to learn more about hearing protection so you can keep on top of your hearing health.

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.