Ear protection when riding a motorcycle
Why wear ear protection
Motorcyclists should wear ear protection when riding a motorcycle because of the prolonged exposure to high levels of noise. This can over time cause permanent hearing damage or deafness.
The sound of the wind rushing past the helmet, the engine noise, and the traffic noise can all contribute to high noise levels that can damage hearing over time. This is known as white noise and can seriously damage your hearing.
Noise levels exceed 85 dB
According to research by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), exposure to noise levels of 85 dB or higher for more than eight hours a day can cause permanent hearing damage.
The noise level of a motorcycle can exceed 85 dB, especially at high speeds or with modified exhaust systems, which can lead to hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and other hearing-related problems.
Ear protection is a must
Ear protection can help to reduce the amount of noise that reaches the rider’s ears, thereby reducing the risk of hearing damage. Earplugs can be used to reduce noise levels, and there are also specialised earplugs designed specifically for motorcyclists. These will reduce wind noise, while still allowing the rider to hear traffic sounds and communicate with other riders via helmet communication.
In addition to protecting the rider’s hearing, ear protection can also help to reduce fatigue and improve concentration, which can be beneficial for longer rides.
Overall, wearing ear protection is an important safety measure that all motorcycle riders should consider to protect their hearing and improve their riding experience.
What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus can be caused by a number of factors, including exposure to loud noises, prolonged exposure to certain noise (like white noise) and some health conditions.
This condition means the person experiences ringing, hissing or other strange sounds in the ears or head that are not heard by anybody else. The offending sound can be constant or intermittent, and can be high or low in pitch.
Although it is not classed as a serious condition, it can really bother and affect someones life. There is no known cure for tinnitus at the moment but various treatments and strategies for coping with it will help manage the awful symptoms that some people experience.
Wearing ear protection when riding a motorcycle can reduce a rider’s risk of getting tinnitus. If you ask people who have it, they say it drives them mad!
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What is white noise?
Quite simply it’s the sound of the wind rushing past the motorcycle helmet when you are riding. If a helmet is cheap or not fitted correctly, the white noise levels will be increased.
It can be the hissing sound, or the sound you hear on an old TV when there is no signal. The constant sound of the wind rushing past the helmet gets louder with speed and if a rider does not protect their ears, it will affect their hearing.
After a long day riding, especially at higher speeds, riders have reported a hissing sound when they are in a quiet place (like going to bed). This is the result of the constant dB noise affecting the ears. It is a fictitious sound that nobody else can hear, but is very real to the person with affected ears.
How do you get tinnitus?
While the exact cause of tinnitus is not always clear, there are several known factors that can contribute to its development:
Exposure to loud noise
Prolonged exposure to loud noises, such as working with heavy machinery, standing near loud speakers at concerts, and riding motorcycles can damage the inner ear. This affects the hair cells that transmit sound to the brain and can cause tinnitus, which may be temporary or permanent.
Age-related hearing loss & Earwax buildup
As people age, the hair cells in the inner ear can naturally deteriorate, which can lead to hearing loss and tinnitus.
Excessive earwax can cause blockages in the ear canal, which can lead to tinnitus.
Medicine, Medical conditions & Ear infections
Some medications, such as certain antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, and cancer medications can cause tinnitus as a side effect. This is usually temporary.
Certain medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, Meniere’s disease, and acoustic neuroma, can cause tinnitus.
Infections in the ear can cause inflammation and damage to the ear structures, leading to tinnitus.
Head and neck injuries
Trauma to the head or neck, such as from a motorcycle accident or sports injury can damage the inner ear or the auditory nerve.
It’s important to note that in some cases, the exact cause of tinnitus may not be clear. If you experience tinnitus, it’s important to see a healthcare provider to determine the underlying cause and to receive appropriate treatment. Although the cause may never be determined.
Riders should take responsibility for their own health and wear ear protection. This will eliminate the hearing problems associated with riding a motorcycle. Custom made ear protection is best and riders should seek professional outlets.
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