According to the American Industrial Paramedic Services, wind-buffeting noise at highway speed (regardless of helmet use or not) will reach sound levels in excess of 100 decibels (dB), roughly the same level as a chainsaw. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines anything above 85 dB as the level at which permanent hearing damage is possible. Being exposed to these high-level noises for just 1.25 cumulative hours over a one-week period can cause permanent hearing damage.
Beginning symptoms of hearing loss include a ringing in the ears called tinnitus, plugged ears and trouble distinguishing sounds from background noise. Sometimes after initial exposure, hearing will return within one to two days. However, if not, the damage may be permanent. The good news is prevention is easy! Over-the-counter foam earplugs will typically have 32 dB of sound reduction, flanged earplugs will be closer to 26 dB, while specialty or custom earplugs offer the highest level of protection and versatility (with the ability to block certain frequencies), but typically cost anywhere from $50-$150.
At Hupy and Abraham, S.C., we always encourage you to have fun and stay safe while on two wheels!