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 top the list of reasons why people love to ride motorcycles. But this exciting hobby comes at a high risk of irreversible hearing damage for individuals who ride a lot.

An in depth study conducted by a notable German automobile association in partnership with a maker of hearing protection solutions evaluated the impact of riding duration and motorcycle speed on hearing health. The findings were alarming: bikers can suffer permanent hearing damage after only 15 minutes of riding without earplugs at a speed of 62 mph.

What causes hearing loss in motorcyclists?

You might not be surprised that bikers often suffer from loss of hearing, but you might be surprised as to why. Contrary to what many think, it’s not the motorcycle’s roaring engine but instead, the wind that presents the biggest hazard. Even though helmets offer considerable protection from injury during crashes, the research highlights that they fall short in protecting the rider’s hearing. The wind noise whipping around the rider’s head isn’t reduced very much even when a helmet has added padding, vents, or other improvements.

Motorcyclists are frequently impacted by a condition called temporary threshold shift (TTS), which is triggered by regular exposure to extreme noise levels. TTS is a progressive condition, meaning the more you are exposed to loud noises, the more intense the symptoms can become. Initially, TTS sufferers might notice minor symptoms like a temporary decrease in hearing clarity. But irreversible hearing loss can, over time, be the result.

Comparing wind noise with other noise levels

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 generates noise levels reaching 95 decibels (dB). For context, European Union (EU) law mandates that workers must safeguard their ears if exposed to volume levels higher than 80 dB. Bikers are enduring noise levels up to 19% higher than safe working environments when traveling at this speed.

As the speed increases, so does the noise level. At 74 mph, wind noise can reach 98 dB, a level that can trigger hearing damage after only 7 minutes of exposure. Many studies corroborate that bikers are indeed at significant risk of irreversible hearing loss.

Protecting your ears

Fortunately, protecting your hearing while riding is both simple and effective: use earplugs. Most individuals are familiar with the old basic earplugs, but hearing specialists recommend the filtered versions instead. 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 vital sounds like human voices, sirens, and car horns.

Bikers are also able to get the full 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 damaging wind noise while still experiencing 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. Considerable and permanent hearing damage can be caused by the noise of wind at high speeds. But bikers can safeguard their long-term hearing while still enjoying the ride by simply making use of a set of quality earplugs.

Stay on top of your hearing health by calling us to talk about 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.