Motorcycle Riders Have a Higher Risk of Hearing Loss

woman on motorcycle with helmet on.

Motorcycle enthusiasts frequently mention the thrill of speed and the love for the open road as the primary reasons behind their enthusiasm. But this exciting hobby comes at a high risk of permanent hearing damage for people who ride a lot.

An in depth study carried out by a notable German automobile association in partnership with a maker of hearing protection solutions examined the effect of riding time and motorcycle speed on hearing health. Alarmingly, at speeds of 62 or higher, for just 15 minutes, riders who don’t use hearing protection can suffer permanent hearing damage.

What causes hearing loss in bikers?

While the idea of hearing loss might not be surprising, the main culprit might. The biggest threat isn’t the raging engine, contrary to the common belief, it’s actually the wind. The research emphasized that although helmets offer crucial protection during crashes, they fall short in safeguarding a biker’s hearing. The wind noise whipping around the rider’s head isn’t decreased much even when a helmet has extra padding, vents, or other modifications.

Motorcyclists are often affected by a condition known as temporary threshold shift (TTS), which is triggered by frequent exposure to excessive noise levels. TTS is a progressive condition, meaning the more you’re exposed to loud noises, the more intense the symptoms can become. People who are coping with TTS may start to detect that their hearing is less clear or other minor symptoms. But irreversible hearing loss can, over time, be the outcome.

How do other noises compare to wind noise?

The German study sheds a lot of light on just how severe 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 example, need to utilize ear protection by law if the volume exceeds 80 dB. Bikers are experiencing noise levels up to 19% higher than safe working environments when traveling at this speed.

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

Protecting your ears

Luckily, it’s simple to protect your hearing with earplugs. Most individuals are familiar with the old standard earplugs, but hearing specialists recommend the filtered versions instead. These sophisticated earplugs are manufactured to protect your eardrums from high-pitched noises like wind while still allowing lower frequency sounds to penetrate. This means you can hear essential sounds like sirens, horns, and human speech, which are critical for a biker’s safety.

Bikers are also able to get the complete experience of riding without feeling isolated or cut off from the outside world which can’t be said for the old conventional style. You can safeguard your ears from harmful wind noise while still enjoying the thrill of the ride by using filtered earplugs.

While the passion for motorcycling is fueled by the allure of speed and freedom, it’s important to recognize and mitigate the associated risks to your hearing. The wind noise generated at high speeds can cause significant and irreversible hearing damage in a very short time period. 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 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.