Roller Coasters and Hearing Loss

ridemcoaster's avatar

Stumbled on this article today. Interesting read and some sound scientific reasoning to it..

Though I dont think there's enough information/evidence to cause panic or completely correlate it.

Last edited by ridemcoaster,
Jeff's avatar

Actually, if they'd look at similar studies around driving with your car window open, I think they'd find it's the same phenomenon.

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ridemcoaster's avatar

Though I think more pressure is built up in a partially enclosed space of a car (the "sonic boom" noise you sometimes hear) than in open air of a coaster train.

But I see where you are going.. My thought was riding in an Airplane and small pressure changes that occur there when changing altitudes.

Raven-Phile's avatar

What did you say?

I kid, I kid. I've never really noticed any significant hearing issues from either driving with my windows down, or spending the day at Cedar Point. I guess the fact that I've played drums in bands for so many years, a lot of times without earplugs before I wised up, was probably much worse for me and lessens the effect.

I believe the phenomenon is called "wind buffeting". When traveling in your vehicle with the windows down, several variables (speed, temperature, wind, how much your windows are open, etc.) combine to create a rapid pressure fluctuation that you hear as a low frequency noise that applies noticeable pressure to your eardrums.

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janfrederick's avatar

I've driven a convertible for over 10 years and definitely have noticed some hearing loss.

"I go out at 3 o' clock for a quart of milk and come home to my son treating his body like an amusement park!" - Estelle Costanza

Guess I'm safe. I've been partly deaf for the majority...43 to be exact...of my 45 years on the planet. And if 30+ Ramones concerts didn't make my hearing worse, ridin' coasters certainly ain't gonna do the trick!


The amusement park rises bold and are huddled on the beach in a mist

Vater's avatar

Combine Raven-Phile's and janfrederick's posts and that's me--20 years of playing drums in bands and owning two convertibles for 11 years total has definitely affected my hearing. I'm fortunate that I only have what I'd consider moderate tinnitus.

Coasters are the least of my problems.

Coasters are definitely the least of my problems, especially with Stitch and Dinosaur. If those two alone don't kill my hearing... ;)

But seriously, my concert/music habits are where I should be concerned. Should be, but I'm not...yet.

Original BlueStreak64

Newsflash! Do not lean on the queue rails because you might slip a disk.

"We're recommmending you ride roller coasters with your head forward as they are meant to be ridden." Huh? I guess those please keep your head back signs are a myth despite saving my outer ears from an arrow or vekoma bashing trauma.

^ When taken out of context that statement does sound weird, but they are in fact just recommending that you should face your head forward when riding a roller coaster and not face it sideways.

And if you read through the entire article it says that the patient was on a coaster that "reached speeds of 120 mph within four seconds". We all know that that would be either an Intamin Rocket or and S&S accelerator, not a normal gravity driven coaster.

Knowing that, I'm sure that we all can agree that if you are on one of those types of rides and you turn your head to the side when it launches your ear is definitely going to hurt. Mainly due to the extremely unbalanced pressure that will be occurring on only one of your ears.

Last edited by CPcisco,

Thanks for clarifying CP! Yes, I took the literal perspective when reading that statement. I totally understand how turning your head can cause ear damage. Also, it doesn't help that I was reading this while half asleep!

I'm a bit cautious about the scientific validity of linking roller coasters to hearing loss when they have only documented a single case -- one guy from Detroit who rode TTD with his head turned towards his girlfriend beside him.

I don't doubt that his injury is serious or that it was related to riding roller coasters, but before doctors go on record talking about the risk, shouldn't they confirm that this is a problem for more than just one individual? Where's your scientific credibility?

LostKause's avatar

I've never encountered any warning signs such as ringing ears after I ride coasters.

And when I do the rock band thing, I almost always wear earplugs when the other bands are playing, but not when I am playing. Wearing them during a performance messes up my pitch. I never found rehearsals (band practice) to be loud enough to really cause a problem.

A few years ago, I saw metal band "As I Lay Dying" at a place in Huntington, and I forgot my earplugs. We stood right up front, next to the speakers. Me ears rang for days. But I recently had a hearing test, and came out with no permanent hearing loss, so I consider myself lucky. :)

I forgot my earplugs during a KoRn concert around 1996, as well. They were very loud, and I was temporarily very deaf afterward.


"CoasterBuzz - It feels like home" :)

Given the nature of the described possible injury, would simply wearing ear plugs while riding reduce any potential risk? Not that I'm advocating, just curious.

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From the article, it sounds to me like talking to your girlfriend will cause hearing loss. :)

There's a difference between actual hearing loss and just not wanting to listen to someone. ;)

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