Tinnitus and Motorcycling

Discussion in 'Support' started by MTL, Jun 13, 2016.

    1. MTL

      MTL Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      November 2014
      I'm about 20 months into this new life - constant, high pitch tinnitus, brought on by sudden loud sound exposure in an enclosed area. Fairly loud - like hear it over a TV kinda loud (I know all relative) 24/7, around 7,000 Hz - 7,500 Hz.

      I have not had much success with any treatments thus far - although Bio-Feedback at least helped me to deal with some of the anxiety, I was doing the notched music therapy on my iPhone for a year - no impact... Now onto my question - more specific to any motorcyclists out here who ride - but I welcome any advice.

      I've been riding off and on for 30 years (a vast majority of time with earplugs), and over the past 10 it's taken on even more meaning and relevance in my life. I've really struggled this past summer and now finding the right combination to alleviate or mask the tinnitus when riding. I do not have a very loud bike - dual sport, thumper (those that ride will know) - but there are the vibes to deal with. So I've been trying various combinations of helmets, earplugs, windscreens... etc. I have some custom Westone earplugs/monitors arriving shortly. I guess my goal has been to create the quietest environment possible inside the helmet (which really brings the tinnitus to the fore), so I can then overlay some masking music or noise so that my tinnitus isn't so deafening. If I don't get things quite first - then I not only risk further hearing damage - but the amount of noise, confounded with my tinnitus makes riding even worse. I have a quiet helmet, have some good motorcycle specific noise reducing earplugs (they target frequencies typical of wind noise and vibes while allowing other non harmful frequencies. I think they are like 25 dB attenuation at the targeted frequencies. I then have some helmet speakers I'm playing music over. So far, this is coming close, but with the plugs in and the cushioning and closeness of the speakers (to reduce outside noise as much as possible) my ears actually hurt a bit - from the pressure - and the Bluetooth speakers I'm using just don;t have enough power to overcome the tinnitus (the earplugs work really well :))

      I really hate the thought of giving up on riding right now. I had been planning quite a long term trip (international) over past 2-3 years, so the onset/timing of the tinnitus could not have been worst. In fact, I was due to leave this month, but have put things on hold until I find a tolerable solution (if there is one). What use to be invaluable "head space/time" is now yet another battle which I know we are all dealing with. All along, while planning this trip, I was hoping for better habituation or results from the notched music therapy. Part of me says I just need to ride, and focus elsewhere, but harder said than done when you're solo on a motorcycle without much else to focus on (yes I pay attention to traffic! :))

      I would love to hear some possible solutions or ideas from others in the same boat.
    2. linearb

      linearb Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      beliefs are makyo and reality ignores them
      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      I learned to ride a bike after getting tinnitus. However, I limit my time on it -- and at some point when I have $15K to spare, I'll probably ditch it for an electric one.

      I also have a thumper (Enfield Bullet). It's about 83 dB idle, 110 dB all open, and I've clocked it at an average of 90-95 dB at road speeds excluding highways which probably crawl up closer to 105 dB. What I notice is that even with earplugs fully inserted, if I ride for a couple hours straight, my hearing seems different/muffled for a couple hours afterwards. So, that seems bad to me, and I don't ride for those lengths of time. Shooting around town for up to about an hour at a go doesn't seem to cause any problems that I notice immediately, though my suspicion is that it still might not be the most alarmingly intelligent thing I could be doing.
    3. Romano

      Romano Member

      Prague, Czech Republic
      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      I developed my tinnitus during a long trip on my motorcycle. I know - I should have worn earplugs... The most absurd thing on earth - I was wearing earplugs. The reason the tinnitus appeared was the noise I heard in my helmet. I think the earplugs were good, plugged well, but there was something wrong with my helmet, the wind noise got inside and I remember this scary, horrific whining noise inside my helmet. It took only a few minutes to trigger a single high pitched tone in my head. The next morning tiny cymbals were added.

      Anyway, I am writing this as I still ride my motorcycle pretty often. But the difference is that I make sure it is not noisy, so I use a windshield, better padded helmet, and if necessary, earplugs for longer faster trips. I would definitely stop riding motorcycles if I believed it would help. To my surprise what I see is that my tinnitus basically never worsens after riding. Strangely, I have experienced at least twice already, and it makes no sense, that after a long motorcycle trip, I went for a walk with a friend and suddenly could not hear tinnitus at all.

      I have a way to deal with tinnitus when riding, it might help some of you. On both my 125 cc little Honda and 500 cc adventure Honda with a big windshield, as I also have hyperacusis and cannot tolerate the engine noise of these bikes, although these bikes are not very loud compared to other types of motorcycles, I definitely don't use earplugs as with the little Grom at speeds up to 90 kph the noise is OK, on the bigger bike the windshield plus deflector basically eliminates all wind noise and all I hear is the engine.

      I have two problems. Hyperacusis, tinnitus.

      As for hyperacusis, I gently, subtly pull my eardrums inside, as if you went downhill in the mountains for a while. That makes the engine noise quieter. The tricky part is to do it without pulling too much as then you ears you feel too much pressure. Like on an aeroplane descending. For some reason this trick always works nice in the evening. In the morning or afternoon, I almost never manage to pull the eardrums subtly enough, always too much pressure. Anyway, this trick means that my Grom doesn't sound horribly noisy and my CB 500 X sounds sweet, really fun to rev it. Music to my ears.

      Now what about tinnitus. If it is a fairly decent day as for tinnitus volume, I use myNoise rainstick sounds. If tinnitus is louder, I use some high frequency neuromodulation sounds that totally mask the stupid tinnitus frequencies I have. If lucky, and everything works out fine, I can really enjoy riding. The engine is quiet enough, and I cannot hear tinnitus. But it took my hundreds of failed attempts and tries to get here.

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