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How wax can block riders’ ears

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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.

Wax works

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. 

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“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.

  1. If you are using Bluetooth around your head tinnitus will be the least of your worries: you’ll probably end up with a brain tumour, or at least bad headaches.

    1. Hi Graeme,
      There is no way for bluetooth waves to ionise an electron and corrupt DNA, so there is no way it can cause cancer.
      Similarly, there is no scientific evidence to suggest Bluetooth causes headaches.
      I would be interested to hear if you have any evidence.
      Perhaps headaches are caused by riders playing their music too loud.
      In which case, wearing earplugs with Bluetooth is a great idea as it reduces background noise so you can listen to the music at a quieter volume.

      1. Actually, there is a great deal of evidence about microwaves affecting DNA. Many European countries are starting to acknowledge this and introduce tougher legislation with respect to microwave transmissions, particularly in regard to WiFi. I still remember doctors smoking during consultations when I was a child and other doctors being employed by tobacco companies to refute the dangers of smoking. In years to come you’ll find WiFi and Bluethooth to have been the cause of the next epidemic of preventable cancers. There is plenty of evidence about the harm caused by microwave transmissions if you take the time to look for it and do so with an open mind. WiFi and cordless telephone base stations are particularly bad, but Bluetooth isn’t benign either.

      2. I’ve sent you two reports, full of scientific evidence, to read. You can believe science or you can believe the manufacturers of these devices, who make massive profits from them and of course would never lie or mislead their customers. People priotorise the convenience of their devices over their health so are blind to warnings (smokers for example), but it is younger people who will suffer the most due to the combined effects of long-term exposure and younger bodies being much more susceptible to damage. I hope you will read the reports in good faith and in such a manner so as to actually absorb the contents and not find ways to be dismissive of the evidence because you don’t want to know about the deleterious effects of these devices.

        1. Could you please provide links to the reports and make sure that the reports include references. If they are stand alone studies then they are not worth any regard and they need to published in reputable journals. There are plenty of disreputable journals with very scientific sounding names who will publish rubbish studies for a fee. As Mark has pointed out there is no reputable and more importantly repeatable study that has linked any form of radio wave with cancer.

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