Plainsboro and Monroe, NJ

Plainsboro and Monroe, NJ

People Who Ride Motorcycles Have an Increased Risk of Hearing Loss

Princeton Otolaryngology Associates: Dr. Scott L. Kay | Hearing Aids News

woman on motorcycle with helmet on.

Motorcycle enthusiasts often mention the thrill of speed and the love for the open road as the driving force behind their passion. However, if you’re an avid rider, you should know about a significant risk: research has connected this thrilling hobby to permanent hearing damage.

The effect of motorcycle speed and riding duration on hearing health was assessed in a detailed study conducted by a hearing protection manufacturer in cooperation with a prominent German automobile association. Alarmingly, at speeds of 62 or higher, for only 15 minutes, riders who don’t utilize hearing protection can suffer permanent hearing damage.

What causes hearing loss in motorcyclists?

While the concept of hearing loss might not come as a complete surprise, the leading culprit might. Contrary to what many think, it’s not the motorcycle’s roaring engine but rather, the wind that poses the biggest threat. Although helmets offer significant protection from injury during crashes, the research stresses that they fall short in protecting the rider’s hearing. Enhancements to the helmet, such as additional padding, vents, or weather stripping, do little to decrease the wind noise swirling around the rider.

Frequent exposure to excessive noise levels often leaves bikers with a condition called temporary threshold shift (TTS). The more frequently you’re exposed to loud noise, the more intense your TTS symptoms will be with this progressive condition. People who are coping with TTS may start to notice 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 noise?

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

As the speed increases, so does the noise level. Hearing damage can occur after only 7 minutes of riding at 74 mph which produces wind volumes of 98 dB. Other studies corroborate these findings, indicating that bikers are indeed at a considerable risk of hearing loss.

How to safeguard your hearing

Thankfully, protecting your hearing while riding is both easy and effective: use earplugs. Hearing specialists strongly recommend utilizing filtered earplugs, which are far better than 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. 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 external world which can’t be said for the old traditional style. You can protect your ears from damaging wind noise while still enjoying the thrill of the ride by making use of filtered earplugs.

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 generated at high speeds can cause significant and permanent hearing damage in a very short time period. However, with the simple addition of quality earplugs, bikers can continue to enjoy their rides while protecting their long-term hearing health.

Give us a 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.

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