What Tastes Best May Not Be Good for Your Ears

What Tastes Best May Not Be Good for Your Ears

Editor: Are restaurants louder now than they were a few years ago? Does loud music affect your restaurant experience? This press release from Purdue University has some great ideas to improve your restaurant experience.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Consider what is best for your ears as well as your taste buds when eating out, says a Purdue University audiologist.

Some restaurants are so noisy that customers’ and employees’ hearing can be affected over time, and loud restaurants can become impossible places for people with hearing loss to visit with friends and families, says Robert Novak, a clinical professor of audiology.

“There are roughly 25-plus million people with significant hearing loss, and that number is on the increase with the aging of the baby boomer population,” Novak says. “Eating out may be one of the few opportunities older people have to socialize with others, and I am concerned that some of these noisy environments will keep people away from the important relationships in their lives.

“The restaurant industry should make sound a priority when considering its patrons and employees.”

Novak, who also is interim head of Purdue’s Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences, says customers should keep a list of restaurants that are quiet and make it a point to patronize these establishments.

“And don’t be afraid to ask them to turn down the music,” he says.

Restaurants and bars with very high noise levels – from things such as amplified music or video arcade games – can contribute to hearing loss for employees. Novak says employees working at such places should consider wearing earplugs to reduce some of the background noise.

People should be able to have a conversation when three feet apart without shouting or asking for frequent repetition, Novak says. If they can’t, the environment is too loud or it is possible that one or both people could have a hearing problem and should make an appointment with an audiologist. In addition to hearing loss, too much noise exposure can result in hearing constant ringing, called tinnitus.

Novak says that today’s world is noisier than ever, thanks to things such as cell phones, portable music devices and amplified sound systems.

“Because of hearing abuse, audiology clinics are increasingly seeing clients with old ears in otherwise young bodies,” Novak says.