Can You Hear Me Now?

Waking up with ringing ears, for me, used to be a sign of one helluva good show from the night before. But as my love for electronic dance music has grown, especially in the realm of heavy bass, ringing ears have become common place… and cause for concern.

Bass, in my face!

I recently learned about a human phenomenon called hyperbolic discounting. This is the theory that we pay more attention to our short-term well-being and “discount” rewards that might come further down the road.

Imagine a small treat in the distant future, like picking up a box of the new Chicken McBites from McDonalds (haven’t tried them yet? Trust me- they’re delicious) three weeks from now. A tasty snack 21 days later doesn’t really sound all that enticing. But drop a box of those savory morsels in front of me right now? Hell yes. Nom, nom, nom! Given the choice between small/immediate rewards versus larger/distant benefits- humans will almost always choose the former.

It applies to the concept of wearing earplugs and preserving your hearing, too. Not only is it a hassle to remember to keep my earplug stash stocked (I swear, they vanish to the same place that my socks from the dryer run off to), but also to remember to carry them with me every time I head to The Mousetrap for Altered Thurzdaze. On top of that, who wants to be seen with brightly colored earplugs sticking out of the sides of their head? And don’t even get me started on trying to have a conversation with someone. “Wait. What’d you say? Hold on. Let me take out my ear plugs so you can repeat yourself.”

But after waking up with ringing ears week after week after week, I overcame hyperbolic discounting and realized that it’s time to start actively preventing hearing loss. It’s no different than running on the treadmill to prevent heart disease and weight gain; it’s a whole lot easier to just stop it from happening, than to wait until it happens and try to get rid of it.

Enter: Dawn Flinn of earEVERYTHING, an audiological consulting practice specializing in hearing conservation catered to the needs of athletes, motorsports, musicians, and broadcasters (and bassheads). I could tell you about what a great service she provides, but instead, I’ll let Matt Vice, a trusted name in local live sound and an established recording engineer, explain:

“The musician’s earplugs are a lifesaver. I can now work all night in a small, concrete club and have little or no hearing fatigue by the end of a 10 hour shift. I’m currently using a pair of -15dB filters in mine, I’m going to buy an extra set of -9dB filters soon. When the earplugs are in, it sounds like someone took the volume knob for reality and just turned it down a bit – no muffling or high frequency loss. I can carry normal conversations in loud environments and even mix a live band with them in. I even use them for long car trips, and LOVE them for flying.

Sensaphonics uses a silicone base for their products delivering a comfortable and complete seal (especially after the heat from your head warms them up). It’s a weird feeling sticking something that far in your ear, so you want to make sure it’s an easy process that sticks for as long as you need.

Dawn is super friendly and informative; I trust her professional experience with my line of work. I recommend her and her product to anyone.”

Dawn’s goal is to transform the culture by changing the understanding and explanation of what can be done to protect hearing while not interfering with the enjoyment of one’s environment. She explains, “In Audiology school you are taught industrial hearing conservation, diagnostics, and hearing aids. No one talked about music and racing. I didn’t like the stress of ‘selling’ hearing aids; I wanted to be more creative with my education.”

musician’s earplugs

Interested in getting a grown-up pair of ear plugs like I am, but wondering about the fitting process? I asked what happens step-by-step from the time someone decides they want a custom pair of earplugs to delivery of the fitted product.

“You can just email or phone me. We meet up. My service comes to you. I work for the Indycar and ALMS racing series, so I am forever on the road. I make on-site visits a part of this custom service. If requested, I can perform a hearing test. Understanding how you are hearing today is a key element in a hearing conservation program. I then write a short history report regarding hearing health, answer any questions, and obtain some ear impressions. The impression process is not painful. It includes an inspection of the ear, placing of a foam block, injection of a silicone ear impression material, and after about 5-10 short minutes, I remove the impression.”

Want to find out more or ask some questions of your own? Contact Dawn Flinn via phone (317-514-9584) or email (dawn [at] earEVERYTHING [dot] com) and take the first step to safer raging today!