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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Does anyone know if there is a correlation between hearing loss or eardrum irritation due to wind noise during riding? I had put in more miles this year than previous years and this is the first time in my life I noticed maybe a very slight bit of hearing loss in one of my ears (noticed this 3 or 4 years ago). I wouldn't call it dramatic hearing loss, more like my eardrums been irritated like hell from the wind. It's kind of feeling you get couple days later from going to a rock concert. I'm in my early 30s and don't think I should be suffering from hearing loss just yet. The wind around my area is generally 5 to 15mph most of the time.
 

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Depending on your speed + wind speed, sure. I ride motorcycles... I'd be deaf if I didn't wear earplugs. Obviously the speeds are different, but it will affect your ears over time. Go see a doc... you might have an ear condition that the wind noise is exacerbating.
 

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This wouldn't surprise me. On windy days, I dislike the howl as the air passes around the helmet and straps. I've been wearing a 30db ear plug in my left ear for the last 15 years or so. Mostly to attenuate the traffic noise. I also have ear canal sensitivity so on colder days this prevents me from getting an ear ache.
 

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I've come to the conclusion that long term exposure to wind noise from riding likely results in hearing loss or tinnitus (ringing in the ears).

I was born with a hole in one eardrum and other ear problems which required surgery as a youth. There was some hearing loss then, but I suspect there's been a definite contribution from riding since then (35+years of riding).

There IS a product available that helps reduce wind noise. I actually bought them but found installation to much aggravation for my patience level, so I chucked them.

The Spoiler

I would be tempted to try the other style, but I wonder whether they'd be too warm in warmer temps. I think an invention in this department would be the next hot selling item, once brought to market. They just need to be easier to install, or should be integrated into the helmet off the shelf.
 

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In order to protect my ears AND eyes, in the future, I plan to ride with both noise cancelling earphones, and a sleep mask.
 

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This may sound kind of gross, but it could be debris . I experienced hearing loss several years ago that landed me in a doctors office . They removed what could have been a small cocoon from my left ear . The doctor said it was probably caused by windbourne debris and concluded correctly that I drive with my window open . I couldn't believe the instant improvement . I'm not suggesting that you have the same issue , but don't rule it out . Good luck .
 

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Ymmv

tjjm36m3 said:
Does anyone know if there is a correlation between hearing loss or eardrum irritation due to wind noise during riding? I had put in more miles this year than previous years and this is the first time in my life I noticed maybe a very slight bit of hearing loss in one of my ears (noticed this 3 or 4 years ago). I wouldn't call it dramatic hearing loss, more like my eardrums been irritated like hell from the wind. It's kind of feeling you get couple days later from going to a rock concert. I'm in my early 30s and don't think I should be suffering from hearing loss just yet. The wind around my area is generally 5 to 15mph most of the time.
Could be, but I have been riding roughly 500 hours per year for 40 years and not experienced any hearing loss that would be different from normal age degradation (slight loss in high frequencies). There are so many individual variations that it is very hard to pinpoint bicycling.

FYI, if you twist your helmet strap that goes in front of the ear, you will get a significant reduction in wind noise.
 

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I'd be surprised if hearing loss resulted from riding. Get an audiogram, and see where you're at. What are your other noise exposures (either occupational or recreation)?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
saf-t said:
I'd be surprised if hearing loss resulted from riding. Get an audiogram, and see where you're at. What are your other noise exposures (either occupational or recreation)?
Just scheduled an appt with an ear, noise, and throat doctor for tomorrow. I'll see how it goes.

There's no loud noise exposure elsewhere in my life right now, occupational or recreational, other than the several over-the-top loud heavy metal concerts I attended years past... probably catching up with me. No but seriously sometimes moments after a ride, I would get the very slight "ringing" effect in my left ear. This warrants a trip to the old doctor's office.
 

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A couple of guys in our club are wearing those thingies that look like earmuffs only they're very thin. They are made specifically to cancel noise without interfering with conversation, approaching cars, etc. Anybody know anything about these? I can't remember what they're called.
 

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What?




No seriously, I have never considered this. At 47 and easily over 350k miles over almost 35 years of serious riding, I do have significant hearing loss. My dr has recommended a comprehensive hearing exam and potentially hearing aides. I have just been putting it off.

I always attributed my hearing loss to all the hunting I did growing up, and never having worn protection, but who knows.

Interesting thread
zac
 

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I doubt the wind noise part... but regular exposure to traffic noise could contribute.

A truck could propably generate 120dB-plus as it passes you full bore.

Some hearing protection would be desirable but then ideally you need all you facilities unattenuated when on the road on your bike..
 

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Pieter said:
I doubt the wind noise part... but regular exposure to traffic noise could contribute.

A truck could propably generate 120dB-plus as it passes you full bore.

Some hearing protection would be desirable but then ideally you need all you facilities unattenuated when on the road on your bike..
I agree. Seems likely that the wind noise would very rarely be loud enough to do any damage. I suppose direct irritation of the eardrum by wind impact could do something, but I think that would only happen if there were some abnormality in the ear canal.

Someone used to make, or still makes, a device that attaches to the helmet straps and blocks some of the windflow from the front. Sort of angled flap, close to the head in the front but opening over the ear toward the back. Because it's open in all other directions, it's not supposed to interfere with hearing, and in fact should make it easier to hear sounds from the back, by attenuating the wind noise. I can't remember what it's called. Mr. V, ask your clubmates.

Kerry's strap-twisting method is a simple way to accomplish a similar thing.

zac, have you really averaged over 10k miles/year over that time? I guess Kerry's in the same range. That's a lot of miles.
 

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JCavilia said:
I agree. Seems likely that the wind noise would very rarely be loud enough to do any damage. I suppose direct irritation of the eardrum by wind impact could do something, but I think that would only happen if there were some abnormality in the ear canal.

Someone used to make, or still makes, a device that attaches to the helmet straps and blocks some of the windflow from the front. Sort of angled flap, close to the head in the front but opening over the ear toward the back. Because it's open in all other directions, it's not supposed to interfere with hearing, and in fact should make it easier to hear sounds from the back, by attenuating the wind noise. I can't remember what it's called. Mr. V, ask your clubmates.

Kerry's strap-twisting method is a simple way to accomplish a similar thing.

zac, have you really averaged over 10k miles/year over that time? I guess Kerry's in the same range. That's a lot of miles.
Yeah, in the 80s, when I was racing, I was in the plus 20k range. In the 90s with young kids and all, I was down to more pedestrian levels, but on average no fewer than 8-9k or so a year. Now in the 00's, the kids are older, and I am back up...this year I am over 12, last two years I was over 14700 and 14200 respectively. To be honest, I don't keep my exact mileage anymore other than I ride everyday (all year, rain, snow, whatever) and typically do certain established routes that I know the mileage of, or just based on hours out. So I typically know weekly and monthlies. Even worse, I don't count it all either....I pretty much ride everywhere that is within 40-50 miles. My wife and kids know that I like to do those "quick" errands that don't require much more than picking or dropping off something smallish. Plus I commute (but that is light compared to the rest of it).

zac
 

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I wonder if individual ear shapes make this more or less problematic with riders.

I used to have problems with ringing and cold air would eventually start to hurt my inner ears. Now I ride with ear buds and music at low levels. As odd as it may sound, the ear buds+music is much quieter than if I took them out.
 

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spade2you said:
I wonder if individual ear shapes make this more or less problematic with riders.

I used to have problems with ringing and cold air would eventually start to hurt my inner ears. Now I ride with ear buds and music at low levels. As odd as it may sound, the ear buds+music is much quieter than if I took them out.
I have tried riding with ear buds in the past, I can't hear anything over the wind noise. Probably just crappy ear buds. But I also have a very difficult time carrying on a meaningful conversation even with a riding partner essentially brushing handlebars. I have a very difficult time distinguishing individual words. Screw a pace line, I can't hear sh*t other than wind and background garble in those instances. I can hear approaching cars and vehicles, but mainly because I don't need to distinguish any inflection, just the added rumble of engine.
 

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tjjm36m3 said:
Does anyone know if there is a correlation between hearing loss or eardrum irritation due to wind noise during riding? I had put in more miles this year than previous years and this is the first time in my life I noticed maybe a very slight bit of hearing loss in one of my ears (noticed this 3 or 4 years ago). I wouldn't call it dramatic hearing loss, more like my eardrums been irritated like hell from the wind. It's kind of feeling you get couple days later from going to a rock concert. I'm in my early 30s and don't think I should be suffering from hearing loss just yet. The wind around my area is generally 5 to 15mph most of the time.
No, not from wind noise. This is a concern in the motorcycle crowd and there's plenty of talk on their sites about it. However, wind noise on a motorcycle rarely exceeds 100dba at legal riding speeds. OSHA regulates noise in the work place and dba readings of 85-90 are allowed for up to 8 hours. No hearing loss should result from this type of exposure. Unless you're drafting a semi for hours there's virtually no chance of experiencing hearing loss from riding a bicycle at normal cycling speeds. Even screaming descents of 60mph won't do it because you won't be exposed long enough and it's unlikely to exceed 100dba anyway.
 
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