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Did You Know?

The noise level of some restaurants is a top complaint of people who eat out.

Do You Want Earplugs With That Burger?

Restaurants can be loud—very loud. And noises that are too loud can be bad for your hearing.

The next time you eat out, look and listen. Is the restaurant a big room with a high ceiling? Are there lots of hard surfaces like metal and concrete? Are tables crowded together? Do you have to talk loudly to be heard? Hard surfaces and open spaces make sounds bounce and echo, so the sounds seem even louder. And when you raise your voice, other people have to talk louder to be heard, too. You may have noticed this in your school cafeteria or classroom. When lots of kids are talking, the noise level gets louder and louder. The same thing happens in a crowded restaurant.

Family at restaurantLots of grownups — and kids — are bothered by noisy restaurants. People with hearing aids are especially bothered because they have trouble distinguishing table conversation from background noise. So, some newspapers rate the noise level of a restaurant along with the food. This noise rating lets you know before you go whether a place is really loud. If your local paper doesn’t offer a noise rating, use this common sense rule: If you have to raise your voice to be heard by the people at your table, it’s probably too loud.

If your favorite restaurant is loud, but you just love the food or fun, there are some things you can do to avoid the noise. Go early before the restaurant gets too busy. Sit in an area off to the side or away from any overhead speakers or game centers. If the music is too loud, have an adult ask the manager to turn down the sound. Take noise off the menu!

For more news about restaurant noise, see: