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

An extensive study carried out by a prominent German automobile association in partnership with a manufacturer of hearing protection solutions examined the effect of riding duration and motorcycle speed on hearing health. The results were startling: bikers can suffer irreversible hearing damage after only 15 minutes of riding without earplugs at a speed of 62 mph.

What causes hearing loss in bikers?

You might not be surprised that bikers often suffer from hearing loss, but you may be surprised as to why. The greatest threat isn’t the roaring engine, contrary to the common belief, it’s really the wind. While 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 reduced very much even when a helmet has extra padding, vents, or other modifications.

Regular exposure to excessive noise levels often leaves bikers with a condition called temporary threshold shift (TTS). TTS is a progressive condition, which means the more you’re exposed to loud noises, the more intense the symptoms can get. At first, TTS sufferers might notice minor symptoms like a temporary decrease in hearing clarity. But permanent hearing loss can, over time, be the outcome.

Comparing wind volume with other noise levels

The German study sheds a lot of light on just how extreme wind noise can get while riding. At 62 mph, the wind around a biker’s head generates noise levels reaching 95 decibels (dB). To put into context, European Union (EU) law mandates that workers need to protect their ears if exposed to volume levels exceeding 80 dB. This means that bikers riding at this speed without ear protection are exposed to noise levels nearly 19% higher than what is regarded as safe in a work environment.

And the volume level only increases as the speed increases. At 74 mph, wind noise can reach 98 dB, a level that can cause hearing damage after only 7 minutes of exposure. Other studies corroborate these findings, indicating that bikers are indeed at a considerable risk of hearing loss.

Protecting your ears

The good news is, it’s simple to safeguard your hearing with earplugs. Most individuals are familiar with the old standard earplugs, but hearing specialists recommend the filtered versions instead. These advanced earplugs are designed to protect your eardrums from high-frequency noises like wind while still allowing lower frequency sounds to get in. 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 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.

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 created at high speeds can cause significant and irreversible hearing damage in a very short time. But bikers can protect their long-term hearing while still enjoying the ride by simply utilizing a pair of quality earplugs.

Call today to learn more about hearing protection so you can stay 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.