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Innovative Tinnitus treating app first German start-up to receive SXSW honor

Tinnitracks treats chronic ear-ringing using patients' very own music.

A soon-to-be-released app for treating tinnitus turned heads at the South-by-Southwest Music, Film and Interactive Festival (SXSW) in Austin, Texas for its innovative approach to treatment.

With Tinnitracks, treating tinnitus is as simple as listening to your favorite music for at least one hour per day for six months in a quiet surrounding.

Tinnitus is characterized by a constant ringing in the ear despite an absence of sound, which indicates over-activity in the corresponding set of auditory nerves.

Requiring no special equipment, all it takes is uploading your music to the app, which determines the therapeutic potential of each track.

Suitable tunes are described as having high auditive energy and should fall within frequency ranges corresponding to that of your tinnitus throughout the duration of the track.

The app assesses your music for these criteria and others using a neuro-acoustic method, according to the company.

Once it's picked out the tunes pertinent to treating your tinnitus, the app filters your tinnitus frequency out of the music files.

By distracting your eardrums with sounds in frequencies other than that of your tinnitus, the hyperactivity in the nerves that cause tinnitus get channeled elsewhere.

The app, which stores and plays music in MP3 format, is not capable of measuring your individual tinnitus frequency, so patients are advised to seek out the help of a hearing aid audiologist or doctor to determine it.

Hamburg-based parent company Sonormed won the SXSW Start-up Accelerator Award in the Digital Health and Life Sciences Technologies category, making it the first German company to take that honor.

Currently, Tinnitracks is a web-based app and a one-year subscription costs $539.

The company is working on a smartphone app.

Other solutions for treating tinnitus include Mutebutton, which stimulates the nerves on the tongue that connect to the brain.

Other options for sufferers of tinnitus include the Levo platform from Otoharmonics, which is accessible on an iPod Touch that's included when patients sign up for treatment.

A 2014 study conducted at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston says drinking coffee could reduce the risk of tinnitus.