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 significant risk: research has connected this exhilarating hobby to permanent hearing damage.

An extensive study conducted by a prominent German automobile association in partnership with a manufacturer of hearing protection solutions evaluated the effect of riding time and motorcycle speed on hearing health. Alarmingly, at speeds of 62 or higher, for only 15 minutes, riders who don’t use hearing protection can suffer irreversible hearing damage.

What causes hearing loss in motorcyclists?

While the concept of hearing loss might not be surprising, the leading culprit might. In spite of what many think, it isn’t the motorcycle’s roaring engine but rather, the wind that poses the biggest threat. The research emphasized that although helmets offer critical protection during accidents, they fall short in safeguarding a biker’s hearing. The wind noise beating around the rider’s head isn’t decreased very much even when a helmet has extra padding, vents, or other improvements.

Regular exposure to extreme noise levels often leaves bikers with a condition known as temporary threshold shift (TTS). The more often you’re exposed to loud noise, the more intense your TTS symptoms will be with this progressive condition. Individuals who are dealing with TTS might begin to detect that their hearing is less clear or other minor symptoms. But irreversible hearing loss can, over time, be the result.

Comparing wind volume with other noise levels

The German study sheds a lot of light on just how extreme wind noise can be while riding. The wind noise around a rider’s head can be as high as 95 (dB) at 62 mph. To put into context, European Union (EU) law mandates that workers must safeguard their ears if exposed to volume levels higher than 80 dB. Bikers are enduring volume levels up to 19% higher than safe working environments when traveling at this speed.

And the noise level only gets louder as the speed goes up. Hearing damage can take place after only 7 minutes of riding at 74 mph which generates wind volumes of 98 dB. Many studies corroborate that bikers are indeed at considerable risk of irreversible hearing loss.

How to protect your hearing

The good news is, it’s simple to safeguard your hearing with earplugs. Most people are familiar with the old standard earplugs, but hearing specialists recommend the filtered versions instead. These advanced earplugs are manufactured to safeguard your eardrums from high-pitched noises like wind while still allowing lower frequency sounds to get in. This means you’re able to hear essential sounds like sirens, horns, and human speech, which are vital for a biker’s safety.

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 conventional 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.

While the passion for motorcycling is fueled by the allure of speed and freedom, it’s crucial to recognize and minimize the associated risks to your hearing. Significant and irreversible hearing damage can be caused by the noise of wind at high speeds. 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 calling us to talk about hearing protection.

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