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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. But this exhilarating hobby comes at a high risk of permanent hearing damage for people who ride a lot.

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

Why do bikers get hearing loss?

You might not be surprised that bikers often suffer from hearing loss, but you may be surprised as to why. In spite of what many believe, it isn’t the motorcycle’s roaring engine but instead, the wind that presents the greatest threat. The research emphasized that although helmets provide critical protection during crashes, they fall short in protecting a biker’s hearing. The wind noise beating around the rider’s head isn’t reduced very much even when a helmet has extra padding, vents, or other improvements.

Frequent exposure to extreme noise levels often leaves bikers with a condition called temporary threshold shift (TTS). TTS is a progressive condition, meaning the more you are exposed to loud noises, the more intense the symptoms can get. Initially, TTS sufferers might notice minor symptoms like a temporary decrease in hearing clarity. But irreversible hearing loss can, over time, be the outcome.

How do other noises compare to wind volume?

To comprehend the severity of wind noise while riding, the German study’s results are illuminating. The wind noise around a rider’s head can reach 95 (dB) at 62 mph. Workers in Europe, for example, need to use hearing protection by law if the volume exceeds 80 dB. This means that bikers riding at this speed without hearing protection are exposed to noise levels nearly 19% higher than what is regarded as safe in a work environment.

As the speed increases, so does the volume level. Hearing damage can happen after just 7 minutes of riding at 74 mph which produces wind volumes of 98 dB. Many studies confirm that bikers are indeed at substantial risk of irreversible 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 standard earplugs, but hearing specialists recommend the filtered versions instead. Filtered earplugs are a more sophisticated model that filters out high frequencies like wind while allowing lower frequencies to get in. This means you’re able to hear essential sounds like sirens, horns, and human speech, which are critical for a biker’s safety.

Bikers are also able to get the full 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 safeguard your ears from harmful wind noise while still experiencing the thrill of the ride by utilizing filtered earplugs.

While the passion for motorcycling is powered by the appeal of speed and freedom, it’s crucial to recognize and minimize the associated risks to your hearing. Significant and irreversible hearing damage can be caused by the noise of wind at high speeds. However, with the basic addition of quality earplugs, bikers can continue to enjoy their rides while safeguarding their long-term hearing health.

Stay on top of your hearing health by contacting us to talk about 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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