When you go to a restaurant, you may observe some problems with the venue. There could be a long wait time or trouble with seating arrangements/the general atmosphere.
A common issue is the noise level inside restaurants. You’ll hear others talking, plates and glasses clinking, blaring music, and seats scraping against the floor. Open kitchens are generally found in many restaurants these days. The transparency of an open kitchen may also have loud chefs communicating with each other.
As Valentine's Day comes up, consider some potential problems when selecting a restaurant if you, or your significant other, struggle with hearing.
7 Hearing Loss Tips for Restaurants
1. Decide where to go.
Take the noise levels of a restaurant into consideration.
Find a restaurant adorned with low ceilings, carpeting, heavy drapes, and a kitchen that isn’t in plain view of diners. These elements will reduce the echo of voices and other noises that fill the room and hinder the ability to hear.
Restaurant reviews are beginning to add noise and lighting ratings, so look at them when choosing where to go if you are worried about noise levels and whether you’ll be able to see people’s faces in specific lighting.
2. Make sure the person speaking is facing you.
Getting the best seat might be tricky, but being able to see the person you’ll mainly be talking with is necessary for a comfortable conversation. No matter what range of hearing abilities you have, bustling atmospheres require the ability to read facial expressions and lips while also being able to see people’s gestures. Making sure the space is effortless in allowing you to view the speaker’s face will create an environment for better communication, so lighting is also crucial.
If you’re having difficulty hearing, sit with your back against a wall. You’ll also need to make sure you have a good view. Don’t sit facing a window with the sun shining through. It will make seeing the speaker sitting opposite of you more challenging.
3. Timing is important. Plan your date after the lunch rush or before the dinner rush.
A smaller crowd of people = less noise.
4. Don't just nod and smile if your didn't hear what your date said.
Whenever necessary, ask others to repeat themselves. A healthy relationship requires better communication. If you need more clarity on something, just ask. Pretending to hear others is not a good habit. It will confuse and create arguments between each of you.
5. Put your hearing aids on.
If you have and need to wear your hearing aids, put them on. They’re a lifesaver in restaurants. If you hear background noises, ask your hearing aid provider to program a restaurant setting that you can switch on. It should only amplify the voices of the speakers nearby - for instance, members of your dining party or the wait staff. Eliminating feedback noises can be accomplished with the help of a professional hearing instrument specialist.
Before leaving, check the battery level. Hearing aids with disposable batteries will release signals when they are close to being depleted. Make sure you always have extra batteries on hand. You’ll remain connected to the communication grid even during a power outage. If you use rechargeable hearing aids, charge them based on the manufacturers’ recommendations.
6. Don't worry.
Most restaurants are loud, so you probably won’t be the only person who can’t hear. The frustration may remain, but that’s okay. Be calm. Take a breath. Stand up for yourself because others might not. Be honest about your needs, be prepared beforehand, and enjoy the food and company.
7. Use the SoundPrint app
Gregory Scott, a hearing aid user who lives in New York City, came up with a solution. He developed the SoundPrint app. This is a free iPhone app that some have called the "Yelp for Noise.”
How does it work?
If you need help hearing the person/people you are with in crowded areas, use the SoundPrint app and search for a quiet restaurant or public venue that would make it easier to have a conversation.
Like a Yelp review, the app gathers data from users who rank and review these spaces. The data gauges the volume and classifies the venues as quiet, moderate, or loud.
SoundPrint’s app lets users research to inspect the noise levels of the local bars, coffee shops, and restaurants. A sound level meter within the app measures noise. Any user can assess the noise levels in a particular spot and submit the measurements to the SoundPrint database. The more submissions that the database receives, the stronger it becomes. That is what makes it more reliable.
Anyone with any range of hearing can use the SoundPrint App.
In general, the world keeps getting louder and louder. It has become almost impossible to find a quiet place to visit. Most modern restaurants focus on fun and entertainment.
The interior designs feature material that does not absorb sound as easily. Hardwood floors, concrete, brick, and tile combined with the lack of drapes or tablecloths allow noises to bounce off these surfaces instead of being absorbed. A study showed that venues crank up the music because consumers tend to buy more drinks or eat quickly, leading to higher turnovers.
The danger in normalizing loud noises is a hazard to your hearing, no matter how good your hearing may seem. Everyone can benefit from the SoundPrint App.
If you are noticing frustrations with hearing in loud or quiet spaces, contact us at Northumberland Hearing Center for a hearing evaluation.
Everyday sounds - from a person’s voice to an engine sound on a motorcycle - are measured in decibels. They make up power, sound pressure, and voltage.
Calculating the Strength of Sound
Sound travels through currents of energy. It’s evaluated through amplitude and frequency.
Amplitude is recorded as decibels (dB), or the measurement of forcefulness or pressure in sound. The higher amount of amplitude there is in a sound, the louder it is. In other words, it’s the volume level.
Frequency is the measurement of sound vibrations every second, and it’s recorded using hertz (Hz). It’s connected to a tone’s low or high sound. For instance, the pitch of a child’s voice is found in the high-frequency range. Hearing loss among the elderly is typically in that frequency range.
Decibels Increase Exponentially
When decibels increase by 10, that means it’s 10 times louder. When they increase by 20, that means the sound is 100 times louder.
Familiar Sounds and their Decibels
To the average person, decibel measurements can’t be easily understood unless you regularly use and are familiar with a decibel meter app.
Hearing loss can happen after frequent or prolonged exposure to at least 70 dB.
The following noises can instantly cause permanent hearing loss after one close-range exposure:
150-160 dB: After a shotgun/firearm goes off
140 dB: A jet engine as it leaves a runway/fireworks
120 dB: Concerts or the siren on an emergency vehicle
The following noises can lead to permanent noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) after constant, extensive exposure:
110 dB: Rock concerts
105-130 dB: Sports events (depending on the arena/stadium’s size and style)
105 dB: Using earbuds or headphones to listen to music at the highest volume
100 dB: The engine of a running motorcycle
90 dB: Using electric power tools or a gas-powered lawn mower
80-90 dB: Heavy traffic
It’s common for those with untreated mild-to-moderate hearing loss to struggle with hearing these faint sounds:
70 dB: Vacuum cleaner
60 dB: An ordinary conversation with another person
50 dB: A conversation with a group of people
20 dB: Rustling leaves
10 dB: Breathing
Hearing loss measurement is based on the minimum range of decibels to which a person can listen. Someone with normal, healthy hearing can hear rustling leaves or water dripping from a faucet and into a sink or on the ground (~10 dB). A person who has mild hearing loss cannot hear that sound.
Frequency and pitch are other elements of hearing loss. Generally, high-pitched hearing loss is more prevalent than low-pitched hearing loss. Here are some combinations of decibel and frequency loss.
10-20 dB: Normal hearing ability
25-40 dB: Mild hearing loss
40-55 dB: Moderate hearing loss
55-69 dB: Moderately severe hearing loss
70-89 dB: Severe hearing loss
90-120 dB: Profound hearing loss
Determining whether Your Surroundings are Too Loud
If you find yourself in a space that seems too noisy and are concerned about your hearing, try the following:
Take Precautions, and be Extra Cautious if You Already Experience Hearing Loss.
Hearing aid users should be mindful of the noise levels of their environments. Hearing aids amplify sounds, so you are still at risk of noise exposure. You can talk to your hearing instrument specialist about various programmed settings to use on your hearing aids when going to different environments.
Hearing aids that are switched off should not be worn to try and protect your hearing. If they do not comfortably fit in your ear canal, they cannot obstruct harmful noise levels when switched off. You just won’t be able to hear sounds that you need/want to hear.
For future events that you plan to attend, or loud activities that you plan to participate in, discuss which hearing protection would work best for you at your next hearing appointment.
If you are experiencing hearing loss, please contact us at Northumberland Hearing Center.