By Richard Ellin, MD, FACP
Question: Love the site! Keep up the good work. My question is: I have some nerve damage in my ears and wind noise can be bothersome at times. I sometimes wear foam ear plugs but was wondering if any other alternatives are available. Thanks in advance. — Steve A.
Dr. Richard Ellin Responds: Here are some thoughts from one of my Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) colleagues regarding how to manage wind noise when one has some hearing loss:
If Steve has sensorineural hearing loss (the most common type, associated with aging or loud noise exposure), this often causes recruitment, which is an amplification of noise, especially high-pitched noise.
Steve might try musicians’ earplugs, which can be obtained from an audiologist who dispenses hearing aids. These will dial down the sound like a volume control, but still give him sound fidelity. That would allow him to still hear road noise as well while riding.
My ENT colleague also checked with an audiologist he works with, who provided the following advice:
He could also look into getting earplugs that are developed for motorcyclists. They are specific for wind noise but would still allow awareness of traffic and voices. Westone is the company we use, and they have a great website. He would need to work with an audiologist to get an impression of his ears (they are custom fit), but they would be a safe solution.
Richard Ellin, MD, FACP, is a board-certified specialist in Internal Medicine who practices in Alpharetta, Georgia. He received his medical degree and completed residency at Emory University, and has been in practice with Kaiser Permanente for 26 years. He is also an avid cyclist.