All riders should be using earplugs to protect their hearing, but frequent use can cause a build-up of wax that can block your ears.
One in six people is affected by hearing loss from exposure to prolonged loud noises and it is higher among motorcycle riders thanks to wind noise up to 100dB at highway speeds.
That’s why we recommend using earplugs such as the Alpine Earplugs. Read our review here.
Ear wax works to trap dust and other small particles from reaching and possibly damaging your ear drum. It also helps prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi in your ear canal.
Your ears have small hairs that act like miniature conveyor belts, to gradually remove the wax buildup as you move around or sleep. This process is know as epithelial migration, which is added by jaw movement.
However, the frequent use of earplugs can push that wax back in.
This compacted and hardened the wax may eventually block one of my eardrums.
However, it is easily treated with some wax softener from the chemist, followed by a nurse syringing it out with warm water. Here are some other tips for unblocking your ears.
Avoid ear candling as there is no clinical proof it works and could injure your ear. Also avoid poking anything into your ear to clean it.
Frank Tidswell, importer of Alpine Earplugs, suggests a weekly drop of Cerumol (TM) in each ear before inserting your earplugs to keep the wax soft.
“Cerumol is one of the only oil-based wax-removal products available over the counter at pharmacies in Australia,” he says.
“If you use a water-based product, it won’t be absorbed by the oily wax, and therefore serve little purpose in maintaining a clear ear canal.”
If wax build up, impaction and resulting blockage is a regular occurrence for you – discuss any further treatment with your doctor.
Riding with tinnitus
The recent film Baby Driver has raised the issue of tinnitus or ringing in the ears that afflicts a lot of older riders.
The film features a young man who plays music almost 24/7 in order to drown out the ringing sound.
Oticon Australia Head of Audiology Danielle Tres says that is not an uncommon method of dealing with the irritating problem.
“Many people find that having something else to focus on, like music or a podcast, can draw their attention away from the tinnitus so that it becomes less noticeable,” she says.
So, if you are suffering tinnitus, make sure you use earplugs to prevent it worsening.
You can also use Alpine Earplugs in conjunction with your Bluetooth audio system as their special filters cut the hissing noise while allowing you to hear your music at a lower and more pleasant volume while riding.
“Anything that takes the mind off the frustrating sound of tinnitus can be a real help for those suffering from the condition,” Danielle says.