Geneva Hearing Services - Geneva, IL

woman on motorcycle with helmet on.

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

The effect of motorcycle speed and riding time on hearing health was examined in a detailed study performed by a hearing protection maker in collaboration with a notable German automobile association. The conclusions were startling: bikers can suffer irreversible hearing damage after just 15 minutes of riding without hearing protection at a speed of 62 mph.

What causes hearing loss in bikers?

While the notion of hearing loss may not be surprising, the leading culprit might. The biggest threat isn’t the roaring engine, contrary to the common belief, it’s actually the wind. Although helmets provide significant 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 reduced much even when a helmet has added padding, vents, or other improvements.

Regular 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 become with this progressive condition. Individuals who are coping with TTS might begin to detect that their hearing is less clear or other minor symptoms. But permanent hearing loss can, over time, be the outcome.

Comparing wind volume 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 be as high as 95 (dB) at 62 mph. Workers in Europe, for instance, have to use ear protection by law if the volume exceeds 80 dB. This means that bikers traveling at this speed without ear protection are exposed to volume levels nearly 19% higher than what is deemed safe in a work environment.

And the noise level only increases as the speed goes up. At 74 mph, wind volume can reach 98 dB, a level that can trigger hearing damage after only 7 minutes of exposure. Many studies confirm that bikers are indeed at significant risk of irreversible hearing loss.

How to safeguard your hearing

Thankfully, protecting your hearing while riding is both easy and effective: use earplugs. Hearing specialists emphatically recommend using filtered earplugs, which are far superior to the old, uncomfortable versions many 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 crucial for bikers to still be able to hear important sounds like human voices, sirens, and car horns.

Furthermore, these modern earplugs let bikers enjoy the sensations of riding without feeling isolated or numb, a common downside of older protective devices. You can protect your ears from harmful wind noise while still experiencing the thrill of the ride by utilizing filtered earplugs.

While the passion for motorcycling is fueled by the allure of speed and freedom, it’s important to acknowledge and minimize the associated hazards to your hearing. The wind noise created at high speeds can cause substantial and permanent hearing damage in a really 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 keep on top of your hearing health.

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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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