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Understanding How Riding a Motorcycle Can Impact Your Hearing

A recent study found that a throttled-up motorbike can cause noise pollution in excess of 100 decibels, while another study determined motorcyclists travelling at 60 km per hour are exposed to 90 decibels of noise in their helmet. What does this mean? Well, noise-induced hearing loss can occur when you're regularly exposed to noise that exceeds 85 decibels, so motorcyclists should be aware of the risk of damage to their hearing health as a result of regular riding.

Noise-induced hearing loss occurs when the tiny cells inside the cochlea in your inner ear are damaged as a result of large sound vibrations. When these cells are damaged they can't transmit sound signals to your brain, so you'll experience muffling of sounds, difficulty following conversations in loud environments and ringing or buzzing in your ears. Noise-induced hearing loss cannot be cured, but treatment is available to prevent further damage to your hearing. Motorcyclists can also take steps to reduce their risk of hearing loss.

Reducing Your Risk of Hearing Loss

You can reduce the risk of damage to your hearing from wind and engine noise by taking the following steps:

  • Change Your Helmet—Protect your ears by using a full-face helmet with a protective visor and minimal air vents, which will minimise wind noise.
  • Invest in Ear Plugs—Have a set of ear plugs custom-made to create a tight seal around the opening of your ear canals, which will reduce the impact of engine noise.
  • Use a Muffler—Mufflers dissipate the noise created by the release of exhaust gas, so you can enjoy a quieter ride and protect your ears by simply fitting an inexpensive muffler to your bike.
  • Book a Hearing Test—Due to the gradual progression of hearing loss, you may not be aware that your hearing is being damaged until you experience significant hearing loss. Having your hearing tested annually will enable your audiologist to keep track of your hearing health and identify minor changes to your hearing that can be addressed before your work or personal life is negatively affected.

Treating Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Hearing aids and cochlear implants can improve your hearing, but once you develop noise-induced hearing loss, you'll need to rely on these devices for the rest of your life. Hearing aids can be used to change the frequency of sound waves as they enter your ear canals. This enables you to avoid sounds that the damaged cells of your cochlea cannot interpret and transmit your brain. Cochlear implants bypass your ears completely and consist of a receiver that's implanted on your temporal bone and a transmitter that's worn on your belt or around your neck. Sounds are transmitted directly to the implanted receiver, so cochlear implants are a good choice for those with severe hearing loss.

If you'd like more information on minimising the risk of damage to your hearing when riding your motorcycle, book an appointment with your audiologist or hearing nurse or speak with a representative from a company like Advanced Hearing Care.