Motorcyclists are being advised to wear earplugs when riding, to avoid the risk of tinnitus, a permanent ringing in the ears caused by overexposure to loud noises.
The British Tinnitus Association (BTA), has created National Tinnitus Week (4-10 February) to raise awareness of the condition, which it says can cause six out of 10 tinnitus sufferers have difficulty sleeping, with others saying that the condition has led to them changing their social life.
Research carried out by Auritech, a Guildford-based company producing specialist filtered earplugs for motorcyclists, found that riding a motorbike at 70mph generated almost 101dBA of wind noise, which can cause permanent hearing damage after just four minutes of exposure. To put that into context, the Health and Safety Executive recommends that workers are not exposed to more than 85dBA in their workplace. Auritech also carried out a of motorcyclists, which found that over a quarter of riders said that they had problems with their hearing and that half of all motorcyclists did not regularly wear hearing protection.
“We’re really pleased to see the BTA’s initiative to raise awareness of tinnitus and the effects it can have on sufferers,” said Wendy Faulkner, Director at Auritech. “Motorcyclists are among those at highest risk of damaging their hearing, as permanent damage can be caused in just a single journey, which is why we feel that it is important that bikers wear good quality hearing protection whenever they ride on the open road.
“There are a lot of myths surrounding hearing protection and hearing loss. Many riders have told us they feel protected because they have a ‘quiet’ helmet, so we commissioned the University of Southampton to conduct some tests on our behalf. These were carried out using three different helmets of good quality, and the tests showed that all generated dangerous levels of wind noise without hearing protection. We also regularly hear riders telling us that ‘it’s too late’ and that they don’t wear hearing protection because their hearing is already damaged, however it is important to remember that hearing loss is typically progressive and will get worse through continued exposure to loud noises. It’s never too late to start using hearing protection.”
The British Tinnitus Association has more information on the condition on its website – www.tinnitus.org.uk and has set up a freephone helpline on 0800 018 0527 to give further advice.