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Wind noise, the “silent killer”

October 02, 2014 | Posted in Real Ear Measurements | Be the first one to comment


Motorcycle season is finally here! The days are getting longer, warmer and for many enthusiasts; the motorbikes are out of storage and ready for another riding season. A motorcycle enthusiast myself, I too am excited and have been anticipating this year’s riding season. As your local Hearing Healthcare Professional, I would like to share some helpful/useful information in relation to motorcycles and hearing loss that will not only help prevent hearing loss but will also increase the pleasure in riding this season. 

   The most common misconception with motorcycles and hearing loss is that the noise created by the loud pipes of a bike is the cause of a hearing loss. Although we can all agree, most motorcycles are loud and standing beside one will make us plug our ears, it is not the noise the bike produces that is most damaging. Often referred to as, “the silent killer”, the major contributor to hearing loss in the motorcycle industry remains the "wind noise." Wind noise can be described as the amount of noise turbulence produced around the head while the rider is in motion. The consequences of exposure to “wind noise” results in irreversible hearing loss damage over a period of time. I have dedicated many hours educating the motorcycle industry on the negative impact and correlation of hearing loss and riding a motorcycle. I have given lectures to motorcycle clubs, set up booths at motorcycle events and shows and have met some of the most interesting people. The fact is, at least 90% of these people have all experienced symptoms of hearing loss, yet many aren’t aware of the damage that is being done.

   In Ontario, according to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and safety (CCOHS), any sound level about 85dB is damaging over an 8 hour period. For every 3dB of sound over 85dB, the maximum permissible exposure time is restricted to half. For example, 88dB of sound is damaging over 4 hours of exposure, 91dB of sound is damaging over 2 hours of exposure, etc. This puts riding a motorcycle at huge risk of hearing loss as "wind noise" at highway speeds can measure up to 116dB! At these levels the rider is not only fatiguing physically from the excess noise exposure (commonly referred to as “noise fatigue”), but it also puts him/her into a position of needing a hearing aid later in life. 

   If you are a rider and have ever experienced the following; ringing in ears after a day out on the road, feeling of being flush, headaches, tired, feeling of ears being “plugged”, then you have experienced signs that you have damaged your hearing. So what can be done to prevent hearing loss while riding? Earplugs. I cannot stress the importance of wearing hearing protection while riding. There are numerous options available including foam disposables or custom fitted earplugs. Wearing hearing protection can provide up to 32dB of noise reduction which will alleviate the uncomfortable symptoms of “noise fatigue” and most importantly prevent hearing loss.  Practice these safety tips, and I am certain you will have a much more enjoyable riding season! Be sure to get fitted today with custom motorcycle plugs call Nu-Life Hearing Centre at 905-697-3838!

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