Motorcycle Riders Have a Higher Risk of Hearing Loss

woman on motorcycle with helmet on.

Motorcycle enthusiasts frequently mention the thrill of speed and the love for the open road as the primary reasons behind their enthusiasm. However, if you’re an avid rider, you should know about a substantial risk: research has connected this exhilarating hobby to irreversible hearing damage.

The impact of motorcycle speed and riding time on hearing health was evaluated in a comprehensive study carried out by a hearing protection maker in collaboration with a notable German automobile association. Alarmingly, at speeds of 62 or higher, for just 15 minutes, riders who don’t utilize hearing protection can suffer irreversible hearing damage.

Why do motorcycle riders get hearing loss?

You might not be surprised that bikers often suffer from loss of hearing, but you might be surprised as to why. Contrary to what many believe, it’s not the motorcycle’s roaring engine but instead, the wind that presents the biggest hazard. The research highlighted that even though helmets provide critical protection during crashes, they fall short in safeguarding a biker’s hearing. The wind noise beating around the rider’s head isn’t decreased much even when a helmet has extra padding, vents, or other modifications.

Bikers are frequently 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 more intense your TTS symptoms will be with this progressive condition. Individuals who are dealing with TTS might begin to detect that their hearing is less clear or other minor symptoms. However, over time, this condition can progress to permanent and irreversible hearing loss.

Comparing wind noise with other noise levels

To comprehend the seriousness of wind noise while riding, the German study’s results are illuminating. The wind noise around a rider’s head can be as high as 95 (dB) at 62 mph. For context, European Union (EU) law mandates that workers must protect their ears if exposed to noise levels higher than 80 dB. Bikers are experiencing noise levels up to 19% higher than safe working environments when traveling at this speed.

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

How to safeguard your hearing

Thankfully, protecting your hearing while riding is both simple and effective: use earplugs. Hearing specialists emphatically recommend utilizing filtered earplugs, which are far better than the old, uncomfortable versions many are familiar with. These advanced earplugs are manufactured to safeguard your eardrums from high-pitched noises like wind while still allowing lower frequency sounds to penetrate. This means you can hear crucial sounds like sirens, horns, and human speech, which are critical for a biker’s safety.

Furthermore, these modern earplugs allow bikers to enjoy the exhilaration of riding without feeling isolated or numb, a common drawback of older protective devices. With filtered earplugs, you can continue to enjoy the thrill of the ride while protecting your hearing from the damaging effects of wind noise.

While the passion for motorcycling is motivated by the appeal of speed and freedom, it’s essential to acknowledge and mitigate the associated risks to your hearing. The wind noise created at high speeds can cause significant and irreversible hearing damage in a really short time. But bikers can protect their long-term hearing while still enjoying the ride by simply utilizing a pair of quality earplugs.

Stay on top of your hearing health by calling 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.