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Old 22 Jan 2020
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Hearing loss

Well I have just returned home from the hospital having undergone my three yearly hearing test - it has deteriorated once more. I have lost the higher frequencies and so I have had to have my hearing aids adjusted (total cost for the hearing aids to me £0 - you have to love the NHS).

The cause of the hearing loss is, I am convinced, due to not wearing ear plugs for many years when riding motorbikes. I guess I rode for about 10 years without plugs. Since I started using ear plugs (about 20 years ago) I have always ridden with them and have been increasingly protective of my hearing. It is only in the last 5 years that I have noticed the hearing loss and I have had hearing aids for 3 years.

If you are riding without earplugs I would really urge you to start - the damage I did years ago is still appearing now and will continue to do so for years to come.

Am I In a small minority in experiencing this and if not should there be some push to promote hearing protection more within the entire motorcycle community - I am aware that there are products out there That do this but they seem to be quite niche products currently.

On a slightly different tack with my hearing aids I have asked if they can fit a “wife’s voice filter“ but apparently there is no such thing on the market. I assume that this is because there is no demand as most men filter it out naturally.
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Old 22 Jan 2020
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It's a common problem among older people and bikers in particular. I must have ridden for a good 40 years, including racing, without earplugs. When you're young and indestructible it seems like a problem for other people. Now of course I have high frequency hearing loss and tinnitus. Neither is life changing but I'd rather not have had them.

So yeah, wear earplugs if you're doing anything more than nipping down the shops.
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Old 23 Jan 2020
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I'm in much the same boat although not yet at the stage where I need hearing aids. I suspect some degree of hearing loss is an inevitable part of the aging process (along with a whole load of other things ) so I suppose after (another) three years it's not surprising that the audiologist's curve is downwards. Did they say why your hearing has deteriorated - is there some pathology that's specific to you for example or is it just 'wear and tear'? I don't suppose there's many of us from the boomer generation that haven't been exposed to excessively loud noise at some point in our lives - music concerts for example, so bikers are just another point on the graph.

In my case I can trace my hearing decline to a specific event about 15yrs ago (a gunshot blast too close to my ear) and as a result undergo periodic hearing tests. Over the years they've shown a steady decline, particularly in my left ear, but there's nothing else going on. My biking history has probably been similar - decades of not bothering (and getting away with it) followed by 20yrs of earplug use. Whether (like smoking) the seed was sown 'back then' and it's only now it's reaching maturity or whether (unlike smoking) there's no longterm connection, only the 'hear' and now + age related deterioration I've no idea and I wonder whether there's much research been done in the area.

The whole earplug world is, tbh, a complete pain in the ar*se. They're awkward to use, easy to forget (how many times have I put everything on for a winter ride and realised I've forgotten the earplugs the second i start the engine.) and anti social (earplugs and intercoms don't mix very well). I'd have hoped helmet manufacturers would have taken the issue seriously by now and looked at building in sound deadening but if they have it's of minimal effect. On the other hand earplugs make my little 125 Suzuki about 15mph faster as I can't hear the rattles
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Old 23 Jan 2020
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I know and expect that there will be some decline in my hearing due to time. However, the audiologist, when I first went 3 years ago, did say that I was quite young to be needing hearing aids.

I know why - it is a combination of motorcycling and concerts but the majority of the damage is almost certainly motorcycling related. I suppose being about 20 yards from the speaker stack when I saw Pink Floyd won't have helped - the fact that my jeans were moving in time with the bass guitar did imply that there was a certain volume to the concert - bloody good show though.

SWMBO is a violinist and is quite protective of her hearing for understandable reasons and has ear plugs that are designed to let through the entire frequency range but at reduced volume.
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Old 23 Jan 2020
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I got into wearing ear plugs at an early age due to my job in an engineering, I noticed many of the old blokes at work had hearing problems so started using ear defenders and ear plugs when I was about 20 before they were fashionable or even available at some places. At first I was ridiculed for it and I thought that they were silly old sods who were being all macho and usually had to ask at each new employer for them to get ear plugs in, I quickly got into wearing them on the bike full time as well.
I probably have the television volume up two clicks higher than before due to a lack of clarity in the sound but I think this is due to age deterioration rather than noise damage.
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Old 15 Oct 2020
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Oh joy. Yet another blessing related to hearing loss - as mentioned before I wear hearing aids and recently developed an ear infection in my left ear so I can’t wear that hearing aid. Not normally an issue but now the trouble Was that I couldn’t be seen by my doctor due to COVID and I was given an ear spray that was ineffective and my eardrum has now perforated.

It will take six weeks to heal - I have now finished my course of antibiotics - but in the meantime I am pretty well deaf in that ear - the only thing I get is the normal ringing of tinnitus.

The other annoying thing is that the tone of the tinnitus is exactly the same tone as the oven at home so whilst I can’t distinguish the oven beeping at me my daughter can hear it 2 rooms away. Fortunately she would never consider calling me a stupid deaf bugger - well not within my hearing anyway.

Look after your hearing people - once it is gone it ain’t coming back.

On the plus side - I am not nagged at now. Apparently.
You will have to do without pocket handkerchiefs, and a great many other things, before we reach our journey's end, Bilbo Baggins. You were born to the rolling hills and little rivers of the Shire, but home is now behind you. The world is ahead.
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Old 16 Oct 2020
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Although people react differently to noise I believe that earplugs are important for motorcyclists.

One of my friends is over 80 yrs old - still riding his bike - and never ever used earplugs. To make things worse, he always uses jet helmets, which are definitely louder than closed helmets. Even after over 60 yrs of riding his hearing ability is absolutely perfect in every respect.

Unfortunately not my case Same as Jay_B I have to wear hearing aids to be able to participate in a conversation, especially if people speak indistinctly. But I suppose it's part of the game when getting old
Only when we pause to wonder
do we go beyond the limits of our little lives.
(Rod McKuen)
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Old 16 Oct 2020
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I think there are lots of factors at play regarding hearing and hearing loss. Some will have better hearing to begin with, some will suffer less from extensive noise exposure.

But ultimately, there's no sense in exposing yourself to a harm that is soooo cheaply mitigated.

And to any nay-sayings citing safety concerns: I can hear all the traffic noises, all the horns, all the engines getting closer. They are dulled but I hear them. What I hear least is the constant hiss of the air as I ride along.

Also far less tiring on the brain, IMHO.
Adventure: it's an experience, not a style!
(so ride what you like, but ride it somewhere new!)
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