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

The effect of motorcycle speed and riding time on hearing health was assessed in a detailed study carried out by a hearing protection maker in cooperation with a prominent German automobile association. The findings were startling: bikers can suffer irreversible hearing damage after only 15 minutes of riding without hearing protection at a speed of 62 mph.

Why do motorcycle riders get hearing loss?

While the concept of hearing loss might not be surprising, the main culprit might. In spite of what many believe, it isn’t the motorcycle’s roaring engine but rather, the wind that presents the greatest hazard. Although helmets offer considerable protection from injury during crashes, the research highlights that they fall short in safeguarding the rider’s hearing. The wind noise whipping around the rider’s head isn’t decreased much even when a helmet has added padding, vents, or other improvements.

Bikers are often affected by a condition called temporary threshold shift (TTS), which is triggered by frequent exposure to excessive noise levels. The more frequently you’re exposed to loud noise, the worse your TTS symptoms will become with this progressive condition. Initially, TTS sufferers might notice minor symptoms like a temporary reduction in hearing clarity. But permanent hearing loss can, over time, be the result.

How do other noises compare to wind volume?

To comprehend the severity of wind noise while riding, the German study’s conclusions are illuminating. The wind noise around a rider’s head can reach 95 (dB) at 62 mph. Workers in Europe, for instance, need to utilize hearing protection by law if the volume exceeds 80 dB. Bikers are experiencing noise levels up to 19% higher than safe working environments when riding at this speed.

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

Protecting your ears

The good news is, it’s easy to protect your hearing with earplugs. Hearing specialists emphatically recommend utilizing 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. This means you’re able to hear essential sounds like sirens, horns, and human speech, which are critical for a biker’s safety.

Moreover, these modern earplugs allow bikers to enjoy the exhilaration of riding without feeling cut off or numb, a common disadvantage of older protective devices. With filtered earplugs, you can continue to enjoy the thrill of the ride while safeguarding your hearing from the harmful effects of wind noise.

While the passion for motorcycling is powered by the allure of speed and freedom, it’s important to recognize and minimize the associated risks to your hearing. Substantial and permanent hearing damage can be caused by the noise of wind at high speeds. But bikers can protect their long-term hearing while still enjoying the ride by simply using a set of quality earplugs.

Call today to find out 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.