A 2018 Zagat survey found that noise is the #1 complaint of diners. The combination of noisy backgrounds and multiple speakers can make it hard to lock onto, hear, and actively participate in conversations. It’s called “the restaurant dilemma” and it can keep you from enjoying good times with family and friends. 

The noise levels at the 50 in-demand restaurants surveyed in America were on average at or above the 80-decibel range. That’s about the noise level of alarm clock or heavy traffic on a busy roadway. To put the decibel readings in context: Hearing care professionals advise that over time, exposure to noise levels above 85 decibels can contribute to hearing loss.

The local market teams in America found that a combination of factors contributed to the high noise levels recorded in the survey, including décor, size, seating configuration, music and other entertainment, and kitchen design and food preparation areas.

When it came to distracting background noise, the teams observed few differences in noise levels between restaurants that offered relaxed, casual dining and those with a more formal setting. In some restaurants, television monitors positioned throughout the dining area delivered a one-two punch to diners’ ears with loud on-air sports commentary and on-site fan cheers. In trendy “industrial chic” restaurants, the steel, granite, tile and other hard surfaces amplified sound, raising readings to nearly 85 decibels and creating uncomfortably high sound reverberation.

Oticon Survey - How to solve the restaurant dilemma

Your solution to the restaurant dilemma doesn’t have to mean staying home and missing opportunities for social engagement with friends and family. The newest BrainHearing™ technology available in Oticon Opn  and Oticon Opn S hearing aids provides a better option. Opn & Opn S overcomes a challenge that even the most advanced solutions of today can’t solve – the ability to handle noisy environments with multiple speakers.

Tips for dining with hearing loss

1. Request an early reservation

 An early start time helps to put you ahead of the building wave of sound.

2. Pick a quiet spot

Select a restaurant with a good hearing environment. Look for details that minimize background noise. Carpeting, cork or acoustic ceiling tiles, curtains, table clothes, seat cushions and other noise-absorbing features will dampen the noise level

3. Speak up about your hearing loss

Don’t shy away from telling your dinner companions or your server that you have a hearing loss and noisy situations can be difficult for you.

4. Take the best seat at the table

Choose a seat that lets you see as many faces as possible. That way, you’ll be able to see their lips while people are speaking.

5. Wear your hearing aids

This is an obvious strategy for hearing better and one of the best. Oticon hearing aids give you access to all sounds in the environment. You can hear what you want to hear, even in noisy situations, like restaurants or social gatherings, with multiple people speaking

Originally published on oticon.com