Denver is one of the foodie capitals of the United States, home to a vibrant dining scene enjoyed not only by locals but to folks visiting the city for the culinary delights. But there is a hidden ingredient of risk that comes with the glamor: the findings of a new study list Denver as the fourth noisiest restaurant city in the country.
Decibels that do damage
Denverites beware, the average restaurant averages around 80 decibels during a weekend dinner rush. To put that number into perspective, noise over 85 decibels is considered dangerous particularly when exposure is prolonged. A Saturday night meal for diners from start to finish can last anywhere between an hour or up to three hours, depending on the occasion. You might be just grabbing a quick bite before evening plans, which shortens your exposure. However, it might be an extended visit because the meal is the night’s plan, a celebratory dinner or night out on the town.
The plight of the worker
Folks who work in the restaurant and hospitality industry and at an even greater risk, as shifts can last between 8 and twelve hours in duration. As prescribed by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), hearing preservation habits should be in place to reduce worker’s risk of hearing damage. This can be taking regular breaks in a quiet space or introducing structural changes which minimize noise.
Decorate for your health
While the current trend in restaurant design seems to veer towards the bare and cavernous, decorative changes might be welcome to make diners and workers experiences more enjoyable and sustainable for their hearing health in the long term. Carpeted floors, upholstered seating, low ceilings and wood trim all work discreetly to reduce noise.
Particular challenges for those with hearing loss
Normal conversations are typically measured at 60 to 65 decibels. Set against a challenging listening situation in which background noise measures into the 80s, conversations for those with hearing loss in a noisy restaurant can be quite a feat. There are some measures, however, that can alleviate the burden of background noise and make your experience more connective.
Pick a cozy spot
Be proactive about where you’re dining. Choose a place with those decorative elements that help to eliminate background noise. The shorthand way to find this is to seek out a cozy space with carpeting, low ceilings and wood paneling. Once there, be selective about where you sit. Ask for a table near a wall or corner. These architectural attributes help to eliminate even more noise and can really assist in preserving the immediate conversation. Choosing a seat against a wall can eliminate background noise, allowing your attention and ears to focus on the noise you want to pay attention to: the conversation right in front of you.
Prep your dining companion
If you’re eating with a close friend, partner or family member, they’ll likely already be on board with selecting a comfortable listening environment for your meal. However, if this is a new friend or acquaintance, this might be the perfect time to disclose your hearing loss. Clue them in that hearing can sometimes be challenging for you and set the tone for how your interaction will continue. Once you’re both aware of the upcoming obstacles, you can find ways together to make the conversation flow as you savor the culinary delights.
Make mention to the staff
You might also disclose your hearing loss or difficulty to your server. They’re entire job is to make this a pleasant experience for you, and any and all intel you can provide will assist them in this task. It’s just a thing you bring to the table, neither good nor bad, similar to disclosing a shellfish allergy or a preference for sparkling water. This goes for the host seating you, as well. Alerting them to your hearing condition will allow them to find the best spot in the restaurant for you. Hospitality industry workers are known for their willingness to accommodate, it’s one of the reasons they got into that line of work in the first place!
A broad menu of treatment options
Dining out doesn’t have to be difficult, and neither does daily communication. If you think that hearing loss is affecting your life, make an appointment and schedule a hearing test with us at Denver Audiology. There are a number of ways to intervene and treat hearing loss and they all begin with getting a reliable diagnosis of your unique hearing loss pattern. Once that is known, you can begin a conversation with us at Denver Audiology to determine a treatment path that best fits your life.