Is Fine Dining In A Noisy Restaurant Damaging Your Hearing?

According to an ITV news article, more people are opting for a takeaway meal rather than face eating out in a noisy restaurant.

Are Restaurants Too Noisy?

If you've gone out to eat with friends and strained unsuccessfully to hear a conversation, you're not alone in the experience. Distracting background noise can often make it impossible to get a handle on what's being said, so you're left chewing on your food feeling isolated and frustrated.

Action on Hearing Loss Study

Some interesting new statistics have emerged from the charity the RNID. According to their research, 91% of us would avoid revisiting a noisy restaurant. Instead, 43% of people would prefer to eat a takeaway in their own home to avoid the problem entirely. So what's causing this shift in behaviour? According to the study by the RNID, some busy restaurants can generate sound levels of up to 90 decibels. This is a particularly worrying statistic given exposure to sound levels measuring 85 decibels and above can lead to permanent damage to the inner ear and potential hearing loss. Is it any wonder that diners are choosing to avoid loud restaurants when the sound generated can equal that of a petrol lawnmower?

What Can Restaurants Do?

The existing fashion of stripped back hard flooring and smooth surfaces means the sound can "bounce around the room". By adding an acoustic finish to ceilings, the sound can be absorbed making the whole dining experience more enjoyable and not as noisy.

Which Noise Levels Are Harmful?

According to - over 40 million Americans live with some kind of hearing difficulty, ten million of which can be directly attributed to noise-induced hearing loss. Such damage can be caused by a single incident, such as a gunshot or thunderclap; other times, by repeated exposure to high volume levels. Once the microscopic hair cells in the cochlea are damaged, the resulting hearing loss is permanent. Decibel exposure times vary depending upon whether a noise is continuous or periodic. Guidelines laid out by would seem to indicate that the permissible exposure to a continuous volume level of 91dB would be just two hours. Any longer and you could face possible damage to your hearing. Although most meals don't last much longer than two hours it does explain why we can sometimes feel uncomfortable in such noisy listening environments over a protracted period of time.

Next Steps

The RNID is currently encouraging those living in the UK to email their local news editor about their experiences concerning noisy restaurants. For more information visit their website. Alternatively, click here to read the full ITV news article.

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