Tired of Loud Restaurants? Time for a Hearing Test!

Tired of Loud Restaurants? Time for a Hearing Test!

Leanne E. Polhill, LHAS, BC-HIS, BA Hearing Health, Hearing Loss, Hearing Loss Treatment, Research

Leanne E. Polhill, LHAS, BC-HIS, BA
Latest posts by Leanne E. Polhill, LHAS, BC-HIS, BA (see all)

Think back to the last time you were in a restaurant. How was your experience there? Perhaps you were lucky enough to find a quiet place where the conversation was easy and you were comfortable in your surroundings. Although these restaurants are out there, many more provide a worst-case scenario for background noise. Not only do they play background music, sometimes at a loud volume, but they also become louder as the crowd grows. When the volume increases, all the diners up the ante and try to speak over one another. This process can make the volume in a restaurant uncomfortable for anyone, but those with untreated hearing loss tend to have the most difficult time. When you add to this complex situation that the architecture of some restaurants can be quite reverberant and echoing, the situation is one of the worst for conversation. Let’s take a look at a few strategies to deal with this imperfect communication environment, as well as the only durable solution for those who have hearing loss: professional treatment. 

Finding a Quiet Place

Our public lives can be quite difficult with hearing loss. Background noise and a confluence of voices speaking at once make it hard to hear what’s going on. If you are looking for a quiet restaurant, there are some resources out there. Several apps have been developed that use crowd-sourced data to put a rating on the volume. Although they vary from day to day, these apps can help you find a quiet café for work or a quiet restaurant for conversations. One app called SoundPrint offers just such a service, based on a recently compiled “Quiet List” of restaurants in the New York City area. You can always ask your friends and acquaintances for recommendations in your local area, as well. 

Accommodating Conversation

If you need to attend a dinner in a loud restaurant, there are steps you can take to make the sound environment better for communication. Try asking the host for a quiet table when you make the reservation. If you are in a larger group, you stand the best chance of understanding others from the middle of the table. Taking a look at the menu prior to the dinner is a good way to minimize confusion with the server. When asked for your order, you will already know the precise meal you want, rather than having a question-and-answer exchange. If you have a close loved one or family member at the dinner, that person can also help as an ad hoc interpreter. If someone says something you don’t understand or asks a question you don’t hear, that person can repeat and clarify that speech at a closer distance. In some instances, you can even ask the restaurant to turn down the background music. These accommodation strategies can help make it easier to understand what others have to say and to reply to questions appropriately. Try not to check out during the conversation and go into your own internal landscape. Although it can be exhausting to keep up, that engagement is crucial mental exercise, particularly for those with untreated hearing loss. 

Seeking Treatment

If these difficult scenarios sound familiar to you, then you are in need of a hearing test. You might have noticed that conversations are difficult or that you come away from restaurants feeling very exhausted from the struggle to understand. A hearing test is the first step toward getting help in this environment and others. When we complete your hearing test, we will diagnose your individual hearing profile, including the places and environments where hearing is most difficult for you. In consultation, feel free to mention that restaurants are difficult for you, describing precisely what you hear and what makes it hard to communicate. With this information in hand, we can recommend the right range of hearing aids for your needs. Treatment is the only durable solution to the struggle to communicate in a busy restaurant. Although accommodation strategies and searching for quiet places can be helpful, they will not resolve all the issues you face going forward. Don’t hesitate to contact our hearing health professionals right away for a hearing test!