Anyone that rides a motorcycle knows how uncomfortable the noise associated with riding can be; both the sound of the bike and the roar of the wind in your ears. After you get off the bike, you have to put up with annoying ringing in your ears, a full feeling in your head and maybe even dullness in your hearing. Many assume this is a normal feeling, but the symptoms are a natural reaction to excessive and damaging noise.
Whether you ride a dirt bike or a street motorcycle, protecting your hearing is a must. Exposure to noise levels over 80 decibels for more than a few minutes can start to cause irreparable hearing damage, and motorcycles can easily produce sounds of 100 decibels or more — that can damage hearing even in very short exposures. That’s why it is so important to wear hearing protection when you ride. Most people aren’t aware that hearing damage is not reversible. It is something that stays with you forever and currently there is no cure. But there is some good news: hearing loss can be prevented.
Many riders incorrectly assume that by wearing a helmet, they are doing enough to protect their hearing, but that’s simply not true. Helmets are designed to protect heads, not hearing. In fact, studies have found that a helmet only reduces noise levels by about four decibels, and in some cases, noise levels can actually increase while wearing a helmet. Now, tolerance to sound and frequency levels differ from person to person, but in many cases, a helmet can amplify hearing- damaging frequencies to unsafe levels damaging your hearing without you knowing about it.
Thankfully, when it comes to protecting their hearing, riders have several options. These options range from inexpensive disposable earplugs all the way up to the custom-molded variety designed specifically for motorcyclists. Molded earplugs work remarkably well because they’re the exact shape of your inner ear, and as a result, they block out more sound and wind. If you already have some hearing damage, but find that solid plugs block out too much noise, there are also filtered options that filter out unsafe sound levels and protect the wearer’s hearing.
If more motorcyclists wear hearing protection, they’re not just protecting their own hearing, they’re also setting a positive and healthy example for the next generation of riders.
Hearing protection for bike riding is absolutely required to prevent irreversible damage to your hearing loss. Even more alarming than its irreversibility, hearing damage is cumulative; each time you expose your ears to dangerous sound pressures for too long, your hearing is permanently diminished.
Custom earplugs for bike riders are available, and they operate by blocking sound waves from entering the ear canal and causing damage. Especially when wearing a helmet, it’s easy to feel a false sense of security where your hearing is worried, but all that air rushing into the openings between your head and the helmet itself creates turbulence that eventually finds its way to your ears. Using ear plugs for motorcycle riding, you plug the ear, preventing this low-frequency sound pressure from rattling round the sensitive equipment inside your mind until it is broken and cannot be repaired.
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