Why Are Motorcycle Riders at an Increased Risk for Hearing Loss?

woman on motorcycle with helmet on.

Motorcycle enthusiasts frequently cite the thrill of speed and the love for the open road as the driving force behind their enthusiasm. However, if you’re a devoted rider, you should be aware of a substantial risk: research has connected this exhilarating hobby to permanent hearing damage.

The impact of motorcycle speed and riding time on hearing health was assessed in a comprehensive study conducted 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 make use of hearing protection can suffer permanent hearing damage.

Why do bikers get hearing loss?

While the concept of hearing loss might not come as a complete surprise, the main culprit might. The biggest threat isn’t the roaring engine, contrary to the common belief, it’s actually the wind. Although helmets offer significant protection from injury during crashes, the research highlights 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 extra padding, vents, or other modifications.

Bikers are frequently impacted by a condition called temporary threshold shift (TTS), which is triggered by frequent exposure to excessive noise levels. The more often you’re exposed to loud noise, the worse your TTS symptoms will be with this progressive condition. People who are coping with TTS might start 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.

How do other noises compare to wind volume?

The German study sheds a lot of light on just how extreme wind noise can get while riding. The wind noise around a rider’s head can reach 95 (dB) at 62 mph. Workers in Europe, for example, have to use ear protection by law if the volume goes beyond 80 dB. Bikers are enduring noise levels up to 19% higher than safe working environments when riding at this speed.

And the volume level only increases as the speed increases. At 74 mph, wind volume can reach 98 dB, a level that can trigger hearing damage after just 7 minutes of exposure. Many studies confirm that bikers are indeed at significant risk of irreversible hearing loss.

Safeguarding your ears

Luckily, it’s easy to protect your hearing with earplugs. Hearing specialists strongly recommend using filtered earplugs, which are far superior to the old, uncomfortable versions most people are familiar with. Filtered earplugs are a more advanced model that filters out high frequencies like wind while allowing lower frequencies to get through. This means you’re able to 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 sensations of riding without feeling isolated or numb, a common disadvantage of older protective devices. With filtered earplugs, you can continue to experience the thrill of the ride while protecting your hearing from the damaging effects of wind noise.

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. 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 set 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.