Before attending the 4 p.m. game against the University of Texas at El Paso, or watching the Homecoming parade beginning at 11 a.m., UNT alumni, faculty, staff and students and members of the Denton community can get their hearing checked for free at UNT's Speech and Hearing Center, and also pick up free earplugs to protect their hearing from the band music and roar of the football crowd.
The Homecoming hearing screenings for both adults and children, 12 months and older, will be held from 8:30-11:30 a.m. at the center, located at 907 W. Sycamore. No appointments are necessary. Free visitor parking will be available at the center. UNT faculty, staff and students with permits may park in Lots 54, 55 and 57.
Andi Seibold, clinical director of audiology for the Speech and Hearing Center, said a hearing screening for either an adult or a child takes no more than 20 minutes and involves checking one level of hearing in a normal range. If a problem is detected, the person will be encouraged to return to the center for a complete evaluation, and will receive a discount for the services, she said. The center's clinicians will also provide ear cleaning for possible hearing problems caused by buildup of earwax.
Seibold said it's a misconception that hearing problems only happen to elderly people.
"Teens are one of the fastest-growing groups for hearing loss because of the overabundance of electronic media, including smartphones and earbuds," she said. "Having a hearing problem and wearing hearing aids isn't a sign of old age or deficiency, and hearing aids today are so unobtrusive that many people think they're Bluetooth technology."
She said the center decided to hand out earplugs for the Homecoming festivities because football stadiums and band music can reach well over 100 decibels. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says that for every three-decibel increase in sound level, the recommended time of exposure is cut in half. That means that for a stadium averaging 88 decibels, four hours of exposure can cause permanent hearing loss.
For more information on the screening, call the center at 940-565-2262.
By Nancy Kolsti, UNT News Service