According to a recent report by the World Health Organisation, over a billion young adults are at risk of permanent hearing loss thanks to extended exposure to harmful volume levels.
Most often, the damage first manifests itself in the form of a persistent and infuriating ringing in the ears, known as tinnitus – it’s the reason you probably have to wear headphones to fall asleep.
But the word around SXSW is that a new app called Tinnitracks could just be the solution to ending that ringing in the ears for good and doing it in a way that is both practical and affordable.
As FACT reports, while there have been numerous attempts at treating tinnitus over the past few years — most recently a nerve implant in the ear was proposed — but they weren’t exactly solutions for your Average Joe.
Tinnitracks, on the other hand, could be the answer to the prayers of many music lovers. The app was one of nine winners at SXSW’s Accelerator startup competition this past weekend and it’s based on a rather ingenious concept.
First off, it’s important to understand just what tinnitus is. While most think it’s a case of damage sustained by the ear, tinnitus actually originates in our brains.
Tinnitus is the result of changes in the signals sent from the ear to neurone in the brain’s auditory cortex. Tinnitus’ creators claim it can treat the cause of the issue through audio therapy that takes advantage of neuroplasticity.
It’s not just a pipe dream startup, either. The treatment employed by Tinnitracks is based on clinically proven therapy that was developed by researchers at the University of Muenster.
The treatment involves listening to music with the specific frequency causing the patient’s tinnitus filtered out. Over time, the treatment should tone down the nerve signal imbalance in the brain to healthier levels.
The treatment plan is comprised of essentially listening to music for scheduled periods of time. You start by entering your tinnitus frequency into the app – this has to be determined by a specialist.
Then you select some MP3s from your collection and get the Tinnitracks app to filter out your frequency. If any tracks are unsuitable, the app lets you know before uploading to your playback device for headphone listening.
Tinnitracks recommends playing the filtered music for at least one hour per day for at least six months. So, listen to an hour of music every day for six months and lose your tinnitus – it’s almost too good to be true.
Of course, it bears remembering that the app — of which there is only a web-based version, but the company is working on a smartphone app — isn’t cheap. €539 (about AUD$750) will get you a one-year license for unlimited song filtering.
However, as it stands, Tinnitracks is probably the most affordable tinnitus treatment option currently available on the market. Happy listening, everybody.