Dining out is becoming more and more of a challenge for those with hearing sensitivity and hearing loss, according to surveys from Zagat and Consumer Reports, which note that noise levels in restaurants are the top complaint among diners. The "wall of sound" may even be dangerous at many eateries, according to Vox, which connected raucous atmospheres in restaurants back to trends set by celebrity chefs like Mario Batali, who insisted that it was good for business. This theory seems to be borne out by a study that showed diners in a loud atmosphere drank more beers and drank them more quickly than they would in a quiet atmosphere.
Noise levels at many restaurants, particularly in places like New York City, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Chicago, are too loud to allow normal conversation, and can increase the risk of hearing loss. Many creep near to the official threshold for occupational noise hazard levels, which is 85 decibels, according to the CDC. The noise is often a combination of music and television noise, plus sounds from the kitchen, fans or air conditioners, and dining noises amplified by architecture that doesn't attempt to diffuse or minimize the effects.
Those who wish to dine out without putting their hearing at risk have many options, however.
These tips can help you enjoy your dining experience without putting your hearing at risk, and can also be helpful if you already have hearing loss which makes it difficult to manage a restaurant's "wall of sound".
Dining out is becoming more and more of a challenge for those with hearing sensitivity and hearing loss, and noise levels in restaurants are the top complaint among diners.