For those living with hearing loss, meaningful conversations in certain louder settings, like restaurants, can be extremely difficult. Fortunately, tools and strategies are available to help people determine if an establishment has unsafe noise levels, protect their hearing in such settings, and help discover what can be done to improve communications in those circumstances.

The International Hearing Society (IHS) says it encourages all individuals to have their hearing tested by a licensed hearing aid specialist, from whom they can also learn strategies for success in difficult listening environments. However, there is additional new research, mobile apps, and other resources available to help people plan for sound-safe dining experiences and protect their hearing.

Ways Mobile Apps Help People Avoid Noise

There are mobile apps available that people can download on their smartphones to help them measure sound levels. One such app, Decibel Pro, enables users to measure noise levels in a room.

Another product is SoundPrint, a crowd-sourcing mobile app that measures noise levels at restaurants and other establishments around the world. After users measure the volume of a room, they can share that data and give opinions and other sound-related information on the venue. That information is curated and SoundPrint maintains an online directory where users can search for quiet venues, based on the crowd-sharing information.

Harnessing Research to Spot the Quietest Restaurant Chains

Additionally, SoundPrint recently released data analysis of the quietest and loudest restaurant chains in North America. Panera and IHOP chains were shown to be quieter restaurants across the board. Other details released include a comparison of median sound levels of breakfast chains and median sound levels by time of day at the quietest casual restaurant chains.

Further reading: Researchers Find Correlation Between Traffic Noise and Tinnitus

“International Hearing Society is committed to promoting hearing strategies to help all individuals communicate better and protect their hearing,” says IHS President Patrick Kochanowski, BS, ACA, BC-HIS. “Knowing the sound level of your environment, wearing ear protection in loud environments, and having annual hearing checks are first steps in protecting and addressing our hearing, which affects other aspects of life and health. Hearing aid specialists provide individuals with practical advice to help them hear better in loud social situations.”

Featured image: From an analysis of 18 popular restaurant chains, study results from SoundPrint show that Panera and IHOP chains are quieter across the board. They both register below 70 dbA and are the only two restaurants that are consistently quiet. Graphic: Courtesy of SoundPrint