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Dangers Of Hearing Loss In Motor Vehicles

Many people tend to underestimate the environment factors that interfere with our ability to hear because often they do not feel their immediate effect. However, this by no means guarantees that these factors have not inflicted a lasting and long-term damage to our inner ear and sensitive auditory nerves. Subsequently, the consequences can manifest later on in our lives as a permanent hearing impairment. It is, therefore, very important to take timely and adequate measures to care and protect our ears, and be informed of the perils of exposure to prolonged loud and abrupt noises.

One dangerous environment is riding a motorcycle and failing to provide the necessary ear protection. While chasing the wind may be exciting and liberating, it can be detrimental to hearing and cause tinnitus, temporary or permanent hearing loss. Many people underestimate the effect of wind and aftermarket exhaust systems and the level of noise they deliver to the sensitive inner ear hair cells. It is estimated that for an eight-hour working day a person should not be around noises exceeding 85-90dB and if the noise reaches 100dB that time should be reduced to maximum 2 hours. Wind noise on the road reaches 100-103dB. Exposure to it without a protective headgear is highly likely to cause tinnitus and gradual hearing loss. For professional drivers, the situation is even more severe. For instance, in a race, a car driver experiences a sound exposure of 114dB during practice, while the spectators are subject to 96dB. For comparison, any noise above 100dB is considered very dangerous and 130dB is the human threshold of pain.

What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is characterised with hissing, buzzing, whistling or ringing in the ear that does not have an external source. It is usually associated with hearing loss but can occur after a prolonged contact with loud noises such as a rock concert or motor race. In many cases, where the person does not suffer from hearing impairment, it is only temporary and fades away after a couple of hours or days. However, many people who have some degree of hearing loss, experience tinnitus constantly and need to learn to cope with it. In addition, tinnitus may indicate an underlying health condition such as metabolic or neurologic disorder, head trauma, tumour, etc. It is best to undergo regular ear examinations and be aware of the state of your hearing.

Who is in danger?

Along with ringing in the ears, often sport car drivers, motorcycle riders, aviators and people who spend a substantial amount of time around noisy machinery, motors or firearms develop mild hearing loss that usually exacerbates with time and leads to a profound hearing impairment and the need for hearing aids or assistive hearing devices. Taking adequate measures, using earplugs and avoiding spending a lot of time in very noisy environments is essential to keeping your hearing intact, because once incurred, very often, hearing loss is irreversible.

Protection

However, not only high speed and external noise can cause lasting hearing damage but also loud music. You should be sensible and should not increase the volume too much or leave the car windows open when on the road. While car drivers are not allowed to use earplugs (they need to be alert on the road and hear the surrounding traffic, e.g. an ambulance siren), bikers can take advantage of this option and protect their ears from the traffic noise that can reach up to 90dB.

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