Can Riding A Motorcycle Damage Your Hearing?

You can experience hearing loss if you're exposed to noise greater than 85 decibels on a regular basis. It has been determined that the noise pollution created by a throttled up motorcycle can exceed 100 decibels. In addition to this noise, motorcyclists are also exposed to noise in their helmet. Worryingly, this can reach 90 decibels when travelling at 60 km per hour.

So, motorcyclists are at risk of developing noise-induced hearing loss, which damages cells in your cochlea. When sound vibrations damage these cells, they won't be able to transmit certain sounds to your brain. This can make sounds seem muffled and you may not be able to filter our background noise and hear someone's voice clearly in a noisy environment. Damage to the cells in your cochlea cannot be repaired, but there are steps you can take to prevent further damage, and treatment options are available if you'd like to improve your hearing.

Protecting Your Hearing

Motorcyclists can reduce the risk of developing noise-induced hearing loss by wearing a full-face helmet with a visor. These helmets have minimal air vents and can reduce wind noise exposure. Custom-made earplugs are also an invaluable piece of gear when you're riding. The earplugs are made to fit your ear canals, so they create a tight seal that prevents some of the engine noise from your bike filtering through. Additionally, it's a good idea to fit a muffler to your bike. Mufflers ensure a quieter ride by dispersing exhaust noise.

2 Treatments For Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Noise-induced hearing loss can often be improved by one of these treatments:

  • Hearing Aids - Hearing aids that simply magnify sound won't help you if the cells in the cochlea are damaged, but hearing aids can help if they are used to alter the frequency of certain sounds. This allows the sounds to be picked up by healthy cells in the cochlea, as the cells are all responsible for processing different frequencies of soundwaves. For example, if the cells that process high-frequency sounds are damaged, hearing aids can be adjusted to convert high-frequency sounds into lower frequencies.
  • Cochlear Implant - This device bypasses your ears completely and enables sound to be transmitted directly to a receiver that's surgically sited on your temporal bone. You'll have to wear an external microphone and transmitter, but these are small and can be worn around your neck or attached to your belt or waistband.

Noise-induced hearing loss can develop gradually, and symptoms aren't always immediately noticeable, but irreversible damage can still be occurring without obvious symptoms. If you ride a motorcycle regularly, ensure you look after the health of your ears by having regular hearing tests.