Dining out could be unhealthy for your ears

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Undercover and taking decibel readings using the government-designed app and a sound meter. (KFSN)

The reading on a noise measuring app peaks at 104 decibels, that's the same number of decibels as a jackhammer. But we are not at a construction site, we are in a restaurant.

Undercover and taking decibel readings using the government-designed app and a sound meter. While we did get some peaks over 100, our readings averaged between 83 decibels-- which is the same amount of noise emitted by a blender-- and 95 decibels-- that's about the same as a lawn mower.

"We've seen over the years restaurants getting noisier. It's an area that is often gone unchecked. People don't expect to have any kind of damaging exposure, be it to noise, be it other factors when they go out to restaurants," said Clinical Audiologist Jason Wigand.

Debra Gold is a singer on weekends and works in an office during the day. She noticed hearing loss, which she attributes to being in a band. But, now she is more cautious about her noise exposure everywhere.

"When I go into a restaurant I find it very difficult to hear my friends."

So what do the numbers all mean?

Clinical audiologists say, typically, experts consider damaging noise levels to be over 85 decibels. But expert's stress one night of dining out won't ruin your hearing-- it's all about exposure over time.

"Repeated chronic exposure to noise, even if they're at safer levels, has increased the risk of permanent hearing loss," said Wigand.

Of course, not eating out is no fun. Experts said you can ask to be seated in a "quiet area" away from TV's, speakers, and the kitchen.

Gold said she now makes reservations at restaurants that tend to be on the "quieter" side.

"When I make plans to go out for dinner, it's going to be at places where I know I'm going to have a much more pleasant experience."

Hearing experts said the reason some restaurants can be noisy is because of new, hip, and modern "looks." Open kitchens, open floor plans, and bars sometimes there is no barriers to block the sound, and it carries throughout the building.
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