Tinnitus and Motorcycling

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

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    1. MTL

      MTL Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      November 2014
      I hope I'm posting in the right spot - if not I would request the moderator move this.

      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 7-7500Hz.

      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 T 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 plugs/monitors arriving shortly. I guess my goal has been to create the quietest environment possible inside the helmet (which really brings the T to the fore) , so I can then overlay some masking music or noise so that my T 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 T 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 ike 25db 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 T (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 T 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 moto 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. Reinier
      Not amused

      Reinier Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Netherlands
      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Explosion starting engine
      @MTL
      I can not give you advise. Only my experience. I have been an avid motorcycle rider practically all my life. Also many long trips.
      I tried, after my NIHL to continue riding the bike.
      I came to the conclusion I needed to discontinue this hobby.
      The bike is not noisy. As you know wind noise (no windscreen) and helm vibration is much noisier than exhaust or engine noise. Also as you will know windscreen makes engine noises (tappets etc...) louder.

      After a trip my tinnitus and hyperacusis goes through the roof. I always used the yellow earplugs because of the amount of reduction and I find them comfortable for longer trips.
      I have not experimented further because I know from long experience I am not able to find earplugs that keep out noise better than the ones I am using now. Yet a ride is very uncomfortable. That is way I very reluctantly concluded my bike riding days are behind me.

      Having said all this, my NIHL is quite profound. It is different for everyone. There are many people with tinnitus that experience no extra discomfort after a (long) motorcycle ride.
      Please continue to find a way to continue riding.
       
    3. Ecip

      Ecip Member

      Location:
      Edmonton, AB
      Tinnitus Since:
      4.11.2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Still unknown... possibly noise exposure?
      Off topic, but what kind of bike? I used to have a KLR650.
       
    4. linearb
      Psychedelic

      linearb Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      East Coast USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      1998
      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.

      edit to provide a little more context: I also have a thumper (Enfield Bullet). It's about 83db idle, 110db 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. 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.
       
    5. Reinier
      Not amused

      Reinier Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Netherlands
      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Explosion starting engine
      At speeds above 80/90 kph I do not hear the bike any more. It is only wind noise. Low and high frequencies. The mid and high frequencies I can take out with earplugs. Low frequencies is contact noise through helmet. It would surprise me if the low frequencies can do any harm. Discomfort, yes.
      Also because of the earplugs any sound appears loud inside your head/ears.
       
    6. MTL

      MTL Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      November 2014
      Thanks Reinier!

      Interestingly, I was intent on heading your way this summer to ride EU/Norway/Iceland/Denmark and the like - for about 6 months.

      I'm really sorry to hear about your riding decision due to NIHL, but can totally relate, as it has crossed my mind too. I actually did a week long test trip last fall - and while things were "OK" - it was still a distracting annoyance. I've taken some other steps as described above but have not noticed improvement. Part of the issue is that I'm so focused on the T right now (and it's impact on riding), that it's seemed worse since I am focusing on it. I will do some short trips over here first - like week or so - and then make the call. So many rides I want to do - so if I can get things worked out hearing wise to an acceptable degree - there are always other places to ride on the bucket list if I miss this summer in your area.

      On some of my shorter rides so far - when wearing all the right protection - the T isn't so bad after I remove the helmet and plugs - so that's a good sign. BUT, on the bike it's still fairly uncomfortable (due to the fit up/combination of things) and the T not quite being masked enough yet. On a really calm day, at low speeds, I can go without earplugs - and it's actually not too bad - but I don't want to continue that practice. I can't imagine the T getting worse than it is.

      Thanks again for the reply.


      BMW 650 XChallenge - ready for a RTW trip!

      Thanks LinearB - I think I actually read some posts of yours on another forum - but I didn't join in as I think it was an older post. Was that you?

      Those are some interesting numbers; I took a few minutes and checked mine. At idle sitting on the bike with the device at above chest/helmet level - I'm around the same 80-85dB. Revving got me to 100-105dB. I think I'll go for a ride this afternoon and just see if I can get a reading at around 60MPH outside the helmet.

      Like you - shorter rides like 10 minute trips to the store are not bad without plugs - but I'm not risking that anymore. One thing I'd like to try mate is a pair of earplugs that still target the wind/moto frequencies but have less attenuation. Maybe if I cap off at a lesser db it'll allow the outside sounds to mask the T a bit more. As I mentioned above, I was never one to listen to music much while riding - did it occasionally - but I quite liked the quiet environment given by earplugs alone.

      The challenge and experimentation continues.

      I agree - riding at those speeds it's mainly wind noise and the T. Same as your experience. Another thing I noted, I have so much protection between the helmet and ear plugs, that when I walk - I can feel/hear the vibration of my feet hitting the ground right to my ears.

      One other thing I didn't mention - but have looked into - is at least moving to a twin again. I had the BMW 1200GSA (2 of them actually) and they were much smoother and quieter than the single. I test rode a F800 twi the other day with my setup, but they really limited my time/route, so I din;t have much of a chance to play around with things.


      To all - thanks for the replies so far - keep it coming.
       
    7. Reinier
      Not amused

      Reinier Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Netherlands
      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Explosion starting engine
      Yes a lot of the experiences are the same and therefore recognisable (relate to). To what extend I don't know and this is, I suppose, not important.
      On a more positive note: (I may be fooling myself, but this keeps me going). I need something to look forward to. My bike sits in the garage. I will not sell it! I keep hoping that in 5-10 years, positive findings (more "breakthroughs" :)) from researchers hit the news.
      Just something to focus on, but at the same time try not to get obsessed by.
      My list of places I want to visit and revisit on the bike, in the mean time, will continue to grow.
       

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