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Dinner and a Conversation: Managing Hearing Loss in Loud Restaurants

Dinner and a Conversation: Managing Hearing Loss in Loud Restaurants

Written by Dr. Olivia Mitchell

Often, people with severe hearing loss struggle to hear conversation when there is a significant amount of background noise. If you’re one of those people, you are more than aware of the challenges noisy restaurants can cause.

To ensure that you’re getting the most out of your dining experience, the following are a few tips and tricks for hearing better in noisy restaurants…

Photo credits AARP

Sit in a booth with your back facing a wall. This will help drown out the background noise and allow you to hear the person in front of you better.

Do not sit near the kitchen. With dishes clanking, chefs calling out orders, and bells ringing when orders are ready, the kitchen area can be very noisy and distracting.

Make sure the majority of the background noise is behind you (if you use hearing aids). This will allow the hearing aids to better improve the signal-to-noise ratio by recognizing the noise behind you and turning it down while enhancing the speaker’s voice in front of you.

Avoid restaurants with very loud sounds or music. Not only can loud music potentially damage your hearing, it can make it nearly impossible for people to carry on a conversation.

Avoid restaurants with high ceilings. The acoustics of these restaurants can cause an echo which can make hearing more difficult. Try choosing a restaurant with carpet, low ceilings, and curtains.

Avoid sitting in the middle of the restaurant. With sound waves coming from every direction, it can make focusing on the person in front of you more difficult.

Wear Your Hearing Aids. Modern hearing aid technology is designed to turn up speech and lower background noise. Some hearing aids do this automatically while others allow you to switch to different programs to better help manage the noise.

Schedule your outing. Schedule your visit during a slower time. Try to avoid happy hour and traditional dinner times, if possible, to avoid maximum background noise.

Make sure your hearing aids have plenty of battery life. Make sure your hearing aids are fully charged before going to a restaurant. If you have hearing aids with removable batteries, replace them prior.

Advocate for yourself. Let the waiter or waitress know you have a hearing loss! Ask them to turn down the music if possible, have them face you directly when speaking to you, and ask them to write down the specials (if they are not already on the menu).

Developing a hearing loss will prove difficult for most–one often needs to adopt entirely new habits and tendencies depending on their environment, just to gain some conversational clarity. However, it’s important to remind people that these drops in cognitive ability are often not only a normal part of life, but also entirely manageable with some minor adjustments.

– Olivia Mitchell, Au.D.


Dr. Olivia Mitchell is a licensed Audiologist seeing adult & pediatric patients in our Danbury & Norwalk offices.

Call (203) 830-4700 to schedule an appointment with one of our Audiology specialists at any of our convenient office locations in DanburyNew MilfordNorwalk and Ridgefield, CT.

At Advanced Specialty Care, our Clinical Audiologists do more than ensure you hear well – we focus on your total hearing health. Our affiliation with ASC’s Ear, Nose & Throat specialists ensures a comprehensive approach to healthy hearing. We offer state-of-the-art instrument technology and qualified professionals.

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