ASHA President Gail Richard isn’t a fan of loud restaurants. She has hearing loss in one ear, so dinner conversations are challenging for her in any setting. But the current restaurant trends of high ceilings, slick surfaces, open spaces and loud music can make conversation impossible for anyone.
In an op-ed for The Washington Post, Richard explains that these noisy spaces not only make hearing difficult for the meal—they can make hearing difficult permanently.
“Consistently listening to noise levels above 70 decibels can cause hearing loss over time,” Richards says in her article. “And it is not unusual for restaurant reviewers who regularly list restaurant noise in their reviews to find levels above 70 and even 80 decibels. Our dining habits could be damaging our hearing.”
Many businesses believe the hard surfaces, which bounce sound around the room without absorbing it, generate a bustling atmosphere that diners enjoy. But Richard points to a recent ASHA survey on noisy environments that indicates business owners are getting it wrong: Most customers actually avoid loud settings.