(NPN) - Millions of people have some sort of hearing loss, and more than half report it isn't from work.
While it may be hard to pinpoint exact causes, there is no doubt our world is getting louder and restaurants rank among the noisiest places in a recent survey.
Debra Gold is a singer. She noticed hearing loss 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," Gold said.
Typically, experts consider damaging noise levels to be over 85 decibels. Recent readings in some restaurants peaked at 104, but most averaged between 83 and 95 decibels.
They 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," Wigand said.
Experts say you can ask to be seated in a quiet area away from TVs, speakers, the kitchen or bar.
Gold now makes reservations at restaurants which 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," Gold said.