What Causes Hearing Loss – NYTimes.com
After poor service, noise is the second leading complaint about restaurants. Proprietors believe that people spend more on food and drink in bustling eateries, and many have created new venues or retrofitted old ones to maximize sound levels.
When I’m told about a new restaurant, my first question is, “Is it noisy?” My friends and I will never return to one in which the racket makes it impossible to converse with tablemates. Perhaps the young diners the restaurateurs covet “talk” by texting.
The ears are fragile instruments. When sound waves enter the ear, they cause the eardrum to vibrate. The vibrations are transmitted to the cochlea, in the inner ear, where fluid carries them to neatly organized rows of hair cells. These in turn stimulate auditory nerve fibers, each attuned to a different frequency. These impulses travel via the auditory nerve to the brain, where they are interpreted as, say, words, music or an approaching vehicle.
Damage to this delicate apparatus results from both volume and length of exposure to sound. Very loud noises, or chronic exposure to sound even when it is not particularly loud, can wreak havoc on hair cells, causing them to become disarranged and to degenerate.