Motorcycle Riding (Wind Noise) Induced Tinnitus — Starting to Get Worried

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by superworm, Jun 10, 2021.

    1. superworm

      superworm Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Motorcycle
      Hi everyone...

      I've joined because this seems like a great support network, and may help me (and others who find this in the future) get some answers and a better understanding.

      I've always had a subtle whine in my ears when a room was very quiet, but it never really bothered me.

      Following a lifelong dream, I recently got a motorcycle. I used it to commute three times to work last week (around 45 minutes each way, with a 25min section of 60-70 mph). I wear foam style ear plugs every time, and roll them to a point as you're supposed to before inserting them well in the ear canal. I tried to do the right thing!

      I got home Friday evening (4th June) after riding and had ringing in my ears, certainly from the wind noise which did seem quite loud. Normally if I get this, the next day I'm fine, however this time I still have it nearly a week later and I don't think it's improving.

      Reading some of your stories on here, I feel I may be being overdramatic, but this 12-14 kHz whine I've been left with is certainly irritating. I do find myself forgetting about it from time to time at work for example, but when I sense it again, I start to focus on it and it spirals again. I'm starting to become very concerned that I've done some permanent damage, although recovery stories on here are encouraging - though they always seem have the odd horror story stirred through them for balance.

      I have an appointment booked with an audiologist on Tuesday for a hearing test so I guess we'll see what the results are then. Myself and couple of others have done some online hearing tests, and using the exact same equipment I seem to have good hearing comparatively. I think my hearing is ok it's just this tone on top.

      I guess to summarise, I'm starting to get very worried and am looking for advice and hope basically.

      Looking forward to hearing from you all.

      Thanks.
       
    2. billie48
      Sunshine

      billie48 Member Benefactor Ambassador Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2009
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      not sure
      Welcome to the forum. If you can at times forget about the ringing then it is a good sign. Stick to getting busy with life and focus away from tinnitus. The less worry and stressful about tinnitus the better as anxiety and stress can aggravate it. If your tinnitus is new within a week or 2 you can try Prednisone. Also try masking the ringing with soothing nature sounds if it bothers you. Take good care. God bless.
       
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    3. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      superworm

      superworm Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Motorcycle
      Hi billie48,

      Thank you so much for your message - I really appreciate it as essentially you're taking time out of your day to care about somebody you don't know. Thanks.

      I'm in the UK, do you happen to know if Prednisone is a common drug here? I have the visit with a private audiologist on Tuesday, and my doctor who I spoke with today is going to catch up with me Thursday, so perhaps I could ask him about it then.

      I keep reading the success stories trying to keep positive thoughts up. I'm almost certainly going to sell my motorcycle after this - I love it, but I'm terrified now and love hearing my family and friends more!

      Could I ask about your experience with tinnitus? Thanks again.
       
    4. Ken219
      Frustrated

      Ken219 Member

      Location:
      New York Area
      Tinnitus Since:
      Summer of 1990
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise exposure?
      Who knew?

      "Measurements of motorcycle riding noise levels vary, but are generally around 85-95 dB at speeds up to 35 mph, climbing to 110-116 dB at 65 mph."
       
    5. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      superworm

      superworm Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Motorcycle
      Hi Ken219,

      Thanks for your message. I'm not 100% sure what you mean by it... I guess you could be genuinely surprised that motorcycling is noisy, but the cynic in me thinks you're probably imposing some sort of blame on me... a kind of 'you should have known the risks' comment.

      As I said Ken, I was wearing earplugs, and what's more - I was wearing them properly... rolling them to a point and inserting them well into the ear.

      I've come here for help and advice - you can bet your last pound I'd be offering others help and advice if I had any to give.
       
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    6. kingsfan
      Mellow

      kingsfan Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Southern California
      Tinnitus Since:
      9-17-20 / 10-20-20 / 3-31-21 / 5-23-21
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      turning everything up to 11
      There is another thread on here from not too long ago, about someone asking if they should give up riding because of tinnitus. Some members were talking about wind noise and ways to possibly mitigate it.

      You should try and search for it. If I find it I'll post it here; if I can find this thread again!
       
    7. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      superworm

      superworm Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Motorcycle
      Hi @kingsfan,

      Really appreciate your message, it's very kind of you.

      I think I found it actually. The thing is, I'm actually so down and frankly scared about this ringing in my ears that I can't even look at my bike at the moment, let alone think about riding it again.

      I'm just so frightened that this ringing is permanent. I'm at the 1 week point now and the high pitched whine is still there, and I'm not sure there has been much, if any, improvement. I blame myself, as apparently @Ken219 thinks I should!

      Would be great to know about your thoughts and experiences.

      Thanks again, I do appreciate it.
       
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    8. ShaunR

      ShaunR Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      June 2004
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Concert + Motorbike
      Hi,

      For starters, don't blame yourself. I rode for years as a teenager with no earplugs. It was only when I got tinnitus after a concert that I started plugging up.

      I then rode for another 20 years with earplugs and had no problems. It was only when I got ear pain that I had to give up (not from riding I hasten to add).

      The tinnitus you have will most likely fade away into the background. Don't panic and worry and stress about it as it will only make it worse.

      Even if your tinnitus does not go away, you will almost certainly habituate to it. Eventually it'll be a non issue to you.

      However, I would say it sounds like your ears have been compromised albeit minorly so from now, do everything you can to minimise any kind of noise trauma. Wear earplugs when cutting the grass, avoid loud venues and don't ever go to concerts again. You do not want to get hyperacusis or ear pain or the other problems that come with hearing damage.

      I promise you will be fine.

      Shaun.
       
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    9. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      superworm

      superworm Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Motorcycle
      Hi @ShaunR, thanks very much for your message, it's much appreciated - I was hoping a fellow rider would respond. I hope you are having an OK day.

      And thanks for saying I shouldn't blame myself - I'll try not to, though ultimately if I'd just taken the car last week I wouldn't be here.

      I really hope you are right - I feel a bit pathetic moaning on here when I'm only just at the one week mark and some people on here have had their issues for decades. It's just that it doesn't really seem to be getting better and I'm already somewhat losing hope. There seems to be more people who go on to develop further issues than those whose problems go away - not sure if that's an accurate statement or not.

      I'm also struggling to determine how severe it is. When I'm at work, concentrating, and surrounded b several loud PCs, I can forget about it for a few minutes. But then I remember it and it all starts again. I'm currently sat in a quiet room, and I'd say it's fairly loud in my mind, certainly louder than the boiler in the hallway.

      I think the not knowing whether it's going to stop or not is a real pain...

      Thanks again.
       
    10. ShaunR

      ShaunR Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      June 2004
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Concert + Motorbike
      @superworm, stop blaming yourself :) There was no way you knew riding with earplugs was going to give you tinnitus. Just as there's no way you'll know tomorrow you'll step out your door and be squashed by a falling meteor lol.

      I do the same thing everyday when I say I shouldn't have gotten into my brother's car that night... The noise of his stupid knackered diff have caused me a lot of problems... Maybe I need to follow my own advice lol.

      Most people think their tinnitus is catastrophically loud to begin with. It's because your brain is seeing it as a threat because it wasn't there before.

      The best thing you can do is stop listening for it. Stop testing it and just let it be. When I first got tinnitus I checked for it every 5 minutes. When it wasn't gone I got more stressed about it. It's a vicious cycle. And as you're stressing about it your brain sees it more of a threat. Let it be and accept it (harder said than done I know).

      I very very verrrry much doubt you're going to have this chronically... Like I said I rode for 20 years with earplugs... Sometimes I did finish the day with buzzy ears but I think that's more to do with adrenaline. My tinnitus when I got it from the concert was never made any worse by riding my motorbike.

      Even if your tinnitus sticks around, it will almost certainly ease off. Whatever you do, don't wake up every morning expecting it to be gone because you'll be disappointed. It's a very gradual easing.

      Trust me. You're going to be absolutely 100% fine :) I have no reason to lie to you.

      Shaun.
       
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    11. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      superworm

      superworm Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Motorcycle
      @ShaunR, I don't know what else to say but thank you so much for your thoughtful responses. It really feels like I'm being listened to, so thank you for being so kind.

      You're completely right, I'm doing exactly as you said, if I don't notice it for a moment, I almost eagerly check to see if it's gone... which of course it isn't. I will try to stop that to preserve my sanity!

      You're completely not to blame on that one, it wasn't your diff! :) I'm guessing you're a fairly long termer now... but I sincerely hope you have good days and that you get through it.

      You're certainly helping me, and I hope it helps you to know that.

      Thanks!
       
    12. kingsfan
      Mellow

      kingsfan Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Southern California
      Tinnitus Since:
      9-17-20 / 10-20-20 / 3-31-21 / 5-23-21
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      turning everything up to 11
      You really have no reason to blame yourself. You wore ear protection. What more could you have prepared for?

      Before my tinnitus increased, I was looking into getting a bike. I honestly hadn't even thought about needing earplugs. I would have been riding without them, so you were at least thinking critically and did everything right.

      How loud is your tinnitus exactly? Can you hear it when you have the tv or music playing, outside, driving on the highway, in the shower? What kind of sounds are you hearing: is it like a hissing, buzzing, static, or a pure tone? Do you hear one sound or more than one? And does it sound like it's coming from your ears or from your head? Do any external sounds seem distorted. Do normal sounds feel uncomfortable that weren't uncomfortable before the ringing started?

      And some advice for your Audiologist appointment. I would advise you tell them you do not want an Acoustic Reflex test. This test has made many of us worse because of the loudness of the sounds used in the test. I also think volume matching your tinnitus is a bad idea. If your tinnitus is loud you may have them turning up the volume too high while you are determining the match.
       
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    13. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      superworm

      superworm Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Motorcycle
      Hi @kingsfan - thanks for your message, it's really kind of you and very helpful.

      I don't blame you for thinking about a bike - I would describe it as being as close to flying as you can be without leaving ground... sounds really corny/cheesy but it's great fun. Thinking those days are sadly over now, I'd really not want to make this worse.

      It's an interesting question that you ask about my ringing... I can hear it most of the time. I can't hear it in the shower, and I sometimes briefly forget about it at work where there are PC fans etc. all the time. I'm watching TV right now though and I can certainly hear it...

      It sounds almost like an electrical whine. I can watch the show and understand what they are saying, it's just a really annoying tone over all of it.

      It's one single tone, around 6 kHz I'd say. It's pretty much a constant volume unless it's one of the brief moments I've forgotten about it. I have zero pain when hearing other real noises and nothing seems distorted. Basically everything is normal apart from this high pitched whine over the top of everything. Can you make anything of that?

      Thank you very much for your advice on the audiologist, I will certainly ask them not to do those tests.

      I'm so hoping this is a short term thing...

      Thanks again.
       
    14. Bill Arsenault

      Bill Arsenault Member

      Location:
      Boston.
      Tinnitus Since:
      Permanent and intrusive since 2017.
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Medication / Noise Over Exposure
      Hang in there, bud. You're doing all the right things you can do for now. Even if it does not completely go away, or to the degree you would have liked, you're still probably gonna be fine for at least the foreseeable future.

      You're not in this category yet. But clearly you're curious. So in my opinion a significant problem that us people with early progressive permanent tinnitus have is that we don’t want to be content with the fact that we have it.

      We don’t give a fuck that it’s going to be OK. We don’t want this shit period because we think that one stupid move caused it all.

      But man, I think the best advice I ever heard on here was so simple. Like Bill Bauer saying something totally un-profound like “just really rest your ears for a few months and take it from there”.
      Gee, really Bill.

      Of course, I didn’t listen so I’m here talking to you now.
      So talk later.
       
    15. Exit

      Exit Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      01/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise
      Sell the damn bike.
       
    16. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      superworm

      superworm Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Motorcycle
      Thanks for this. It's appreciated.

      I am trying my best to rest my ears. I am not wearing headphones. I'm wearing ear plugs whenever I suspect a loud sound may occur, including around my young son just in case he lets out a scream. The extractor fan was on above the hob in the kitchen last night and I went in the other room. A truck went past me yesterday and I put my fingers in my ears. I really am trying.

      I don't want to make it worse... I want it to get better.

      Last night watching TV seemed a little easier than before, and sleeping with a fan on last night allowed me to sleep eventually.

      I wish I understood better my chances of recovery, but judging by this forum generally speaking it could certainly go either way.

      I hope you are having an OK day yourself — thank you again for your message.
       
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    17. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      superworm

      superworm Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Motorcycle
      Thanks for this. As I say, I think my days on the bike are over, so yes, it's going to be sold.

      Thanks.
       
    18. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      superworm

      superworm Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Motorcycle
      I think that threads like this one give me a bit of hope:

      Tinnitus After Riding Motorcycle on Freeway

      I'm just hoping that he went a bit quiet on his thread because he got better. By the way, I'm not sure if it's relevant or not, but I'm 32 years old.
       
    19. Exit

      Exit Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      01/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise
      It certainly can go both ways, the next 6 months are crucial in my opinion.

      Because of motorcycles and general summer loud people I don’t go outside without ear muffs, unless I’m hiking away from roads and crowds.
       
    20. Robin21

      Robin21 Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2009
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      Hi @superworm!

      It was me who asked for opinions about whether to give up riding or not. I really don't want to, but I have to, since I will not ride it out of fear. I will exchange my Triumph Bonneville for an electric motorbike, probably a scooter :/ It's far from perfect but in a couple of years there will be a ton of great electric options.

      For me as an urban commuter wind speed is not a issue, but for you it is. My concern is exhaust and engine noise. I bought the best possible helmet for it though: a Schubert. Plus bought a custom ear plug. I was using a standard bell shaped one, which is not a proper protection, but my new spike wasn't from riding but during a bike repair (friend's bike exhaust backfired while trying to kickstart it.) There are other good and usually expensive ones from other brands too.

      Since it's the helmet that meets the air with resistance the most important is the padding around your neck so it filters out wind noise. Also, what kind of bike do you ride? Maybe a proper windshield can also deflect some of the noise.

      But everything considered your biggest enemy is speed. The lower it is, the more quiet the ride will be. Can you also alter your route so you don't have to ride that fast, preferably below 50 mph? Also wind speed ads up to your travelling speed, so you travel with 70 mph and there's a strong wind with 40 mph... It's loud as hell.

      But if I think about your case a week of riding in theory should not cause tinnitus, maybe something else could also be responsible? Did you get a COVID-19 vaccine shot recently maybe? Or have you been taking meds or had a cold or flu?
       
    21. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      superworm

      superworm Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Motorcycle
      Thanks very much for your message, very kind of you. Wow, a Bonny... very nice!

      I have a 2005 Suzuki SV650s. It's not that loud really, and I'm certain it was the wind noise. It's crazy really, it's my first bike and I think I must have ridden it in total 8-10 times, normally just slow speed city stuff, but used it 3 times that week to get to work and am now left with this. My helmet is an MT Thunder 3, certainly not as good as a Schuberth, but I thought with ear plugs in all would be good. Seems not and now I'm kicking myself. The only think that stops me thinking that way is that my car was at the garage for repairs, so I didn't have a lot of choice.

      I realise I'm what, 8 days in, but I'm pretty scared it's not going to go away. I think this fear will stick even if the tinnitus doesn't, so can't see my being able to relax enough about it to ride again.

      On your note on electric bikes, I've heard really good things about Zero bikes. I guess if wind wasn't an issue then that would take the loud engine out of the equation too!

      It would be quite nice to think it was something other than the wind noise, but I've only just had my COVID-19 vaccine today and felt good up until the tinnitus. The only thing I can hope for is wax blockage or ear infection etc. from using ear plugs on the bike, but it feels unlikely.
       
    22. Robin21

      Robin21 Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2009
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      It would be nice if I could ride it :D

      I used to own an old Suzuki Gs550e, I loved that bike... I see yours is a street bike, that's cool!

      The way you described the use of earplugs and you used it from the start, I still find it really strange to get noise trauma. The foam plugs sound attenuate around 32 dB when plugged in correctly. Let's say 30 dB. The worst helmet on earth should give you at least 5 dB more. So you are 35 against 120 dB maximum wind noise. This is all just a theory, maybe wind is on the low frequency range and it reaches your ears via bone conduction/helmet vibration. But then again, in practice all it takes is one single acoustic trauma.

      If I can suggest, you should pop NAC for at least a month or two, 2000 mg/day. It is an antioxidant and it might help if there's any hearing loss. Also Resveratrol, it is a natural chemical derived from grape seeds. It also might help.
       
    23. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      superworm

      superworm Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Motorcycle
      Hi @Robin21, thanks again for your message.

      I agree - I also think it's quite strange, but then it did seem quite loud. I'm slowly coming to the conclusion that the ear plugs must have not been in perfectly, or been misaligned a bit when I put my helmet on. I know that when I took my helmet off and took the plugs out, I could hear a lot more, so I know they must have been blocking some of the noise. On one ride I forgot to put them in, but notices as soon as I got up to speed and stopped in a lay-by to put them in. I guess like you say, all it takes is one time though.

      Does seem a bit unlucky though, I mean, I've never really had a loud job, must have been to about 3-4 concerts in all of my 32 years and rarely use power tools. Life can just be a bit cruel I guess.

      I'm in a quiet room at the moment and my ears are blaring. Not so bad when there's around - irritating but just about tolerable. I've just got a bit of a bad feeling that this is here for the long run... though I base that on nothing more than previously any tinnitus in my life has gone the day after.

      Maybe we'll have to start playing motorcycle racing games on the PlayStation!
       
    24. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      superworm

      superworm Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Motorcycle
      Hi all,

      Bit of an update.

      I thought yesterday things may have been getting very slightly better. I was distracted from it quite a lot yesterday.

      Last night I put the fan on in the bedroom, on what I thought was a low setting. I woke up after around 1 hour and the ringing was extreme. I was sure that I'd somehow done more damage and was/am blaming myself all over again.

      Embarrassingly, fearing I'd done more damage when I'd been so careful otherwise, I had what I assume to have been a panic attack in front of my wife. I was basically a quivering wreck.

      Eventually, after she had calmed me down a bit it seemed to fade back a bit, but probably still a bit louder than yesterday.

      I really am starting to fear this is for life now. Feels like I'm losing it a bit.
       
    25. billie48
      Sunshine

      billie48 Member Benefactor Ambassador Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2009
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      not sure
      Sorry I don't know about Prednisone in UK. I am in Canada where Prednisone is readily prescribed.

      Yes success stories will help you to have hope about your tinnitus. Yours seems to be mild form and it is new. So be calm and positive. It will either fade or you will habituate to it like those folks in the success stories. You can find my success story there with the title "From Darkness to Light...". I had both ultra high pitched tinnitus and severe hyperacusis back then. Now I have SSHL on top of the tinnitus. But I keep it positive and still enjoying my life.

      Take care. All the best to you.
       
    26. Bimmerboy

      Bimmerboy Member

      Location:
      London
      Tinnitus Since:
      14/02/21
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      covid, infection, stress, ototoxic meds, noise, TMJ
      @superworm, the fastest way to get Prednisone is by going to Urgent Care center at your local A&E. You have to really convince the doctor on call to give you a course of Prednisone.

      You have to show them you're concerned and worried. Tel them your hearing is lowered in that ear and mention sensorineural hearing loss. They will normally prescribe you 5 days of Prednisone along with an emergency ENT appointment but you have to exaggerate and emphasise on the hearing loss.

      I hate to admit it, but I lied to get my Prednisone. I also got me an ENT appoint in a week the first time around and second time I did it in a couple of days.

      I'm talking from personal experience so in your case it could be different but there's no harm in trying. The other thing you could do is ask around friends and family who may have a prescription. I've been lucky that I had family or friends who had Prednisone prescriptions. So you can ask your friends and family.
       
    27. kingsfan
      Mellow

      kingsfan Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Southern California
      Tinnitus Since:
      9-17-20 / 10-20-20 / 3-31-21 / 5-23-21
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      turning everything up to 11
      This study found that a 14 day course of Prednisone was best for acoustic trauma: 60 mg Prednisolone daily for 10 days, tapering off over days 11-14.
       
    28. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      superworm

      superworm Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Motorcycle
      Hi all,

      2 week update. I'm not really any better.

      I've seen an audiologist who tested up to 8 kHz and says my hearing is normal. GP suspects middle ear fluid, but I still think the cause was the noise on the bike.

      GP has given me a course of antibiotics which I am halfway through, and am no better.

      GP has also given me Citalopram AD and also some Zopiclone for sleep.

      I'm terrifying myself as yesterday we went to see my family and were just talking in garden, with quiet music in background, I think I eventually felt hyperacusis come on as the left side of my head/ear area started with a burning sensation. I moved to a quiet room, the hyperacusis subsided, and last night afterward my tinnitus was particularly quiet.

      This morning it's back and seems louder than ever and I'm terrified I've slipped up.

      Can anyone alleviate my fears? I'm getting myself in a right state, starting to worry it will never become manageable and some pretty dark thoughts creeping in.

      Thanks.

      By the way, I have an ENT appointment booked on 9th July. They won't even consider Prednisone until then.
       
    29. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      superworm

      superworm Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Motorcycle
      I'm terrified I've made my tinnitus worse. @billie48 - do you have any advice?
       
    30. gorzakus

      gorzakus Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Hearing loss ?
      Hi,

      I have had a few spikes riding my motorcycle and they always went down after a few weeks. You were totally protected so the risk of you having damaged your ears is really small. It's the anxiety over this event prolonging your spike. I have had this so many times.

      What helped me was taking measurements with a dB meter in my helmet to prove myself I didn't wreck my ears.

      I'm sure you will feel better soon and next time wear some padding around your neck as mentioned here in the thread.
       
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