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 are at the top of the list of reasons why people love to ride motorcycles. However, if you’re a passionate 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 duration on hearing health was assessed in a comprehensive study conducted by a hearing protection maker in collaboration with a notable German automobile association. The conclusions were alarming: bikers can suffer permanent hearing damage after only 15 minutes of riding without earplugs at a speed of 62 mph.

What causes hearing loss in bikers?

While the concept of hearing loss might not be surprising, the main culprit might. Despite what many believe, it’s not the motorcycle’s roaring engine but rather, the wind that poses the greatest hazard. Although helmets provide considerable protection from injury during crashes, the research highlights that they fall short in safeguarding 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 improvements.

Frequent exposure to extreme noise levels often leaves bikers with a condition called temporary threshold shift (TTS). The more frequently you’re exposed to loud noise, the worse your TTS symptoms will be with this progressive condition. People who are coping with TTS might begin to notice that their hearing is less clear or other minor symptoms. However, over time, this condition can advance to permanent and irreversible hearing loss.

Comparing wind noise with other noise levels

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 instance, need to utilize ear protection by law if the volume goes beyond 80 dB. This means that bikers traveling at this speed without hearing protection are exposed to noise levels nearly 19% higher than what is deemed safe in a work environment.

And the noise level only gets louder as the speed goes up. At 74 mph, wind volume can reach 98 dB, a level that can cause hearing damage after just 7 minutes of exposure. Other studies validate these findings, indicating that bikers are indeed at a significant risk of hearing loss.

How to protect your hearing

The good news is, 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 sophisticated model that filters out high frequencies like wind while allowing lower frequencies to get in. It’s important for bikers to still be able to hear important sounds like human voices, emergency warning sounds, and car horns.

Bikers are also able to get the full experience of riding without feeling isolated or cut off from the outside world which can’t be said for the old traditional style. With filtered earplugs, you can continue to experience the thrill of the ride while safeguarding 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 hearing safe from wind noise. The wind noise created at high speeds can cause significant and irreversible hearing damage in a really short time. But bikers can safeguard their long-term hearing while still enjoying the ride by simply utilizing a set of quality earplugs.

Stay on top of your hearing health by contacting 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.