How would you like to be able to slow the effects of hearing loss?
There’s new technology that could help.
And it comes in an app on your phone.
For decades, Grammy-nominated producer Jon Brown has worked with high profile musical acts.
“I used to work with the Black Eyed Peas for a while and I did some music with Pink and Eminem,” he said.
But the loud music took its toll on Brown’s hearing in the form of tinnitus.
“If you can imagine having ringing in your ears 24/7. I found out I had some mild hearing loss,” Brown said.
Hearing loss can lead to ear ringing, but science tells us once the hair cells on the inner ear die, they don’t regenerate. But Brown heard about a sound therapy app called “AudioCardio” designed to strengthen hearing. It delivers specific, customized sounds that essentially stimulate your hearing cells and pathways to the brain.
“We’re not going to revive dead hair cells. What we are trying to do though is stimulate the ones that have been desensitized or damaged over time,” said AudioCardio co-founder Chris Ellis.
Ellis started researching ways to improve hearing after his grandfather had hearing loss and eventually dementia.
A new Journal of the American Medical Association study suggests maintaining or restoring hearing may help keep dementia from advancing.
“The ability to improve your hearing specifically in middle age could actually decrease the risk of dementia as you age, or at least that’s the theory,” Dr. William Slattery with the House Institute Ear Clinic.
The app, which costs about $10 a month, leads you through a self-assessment. Then it sends sound frequencies to exercise your hearing.
“This sound that you actually can’t hear is playing over and over again to stimulate the cells inside the ear. And when those cells get stimulated, they start to fire and send a signal to the brain,” Ellis said.
AudioCardio partnered with Stanford researchers to test their app.
“Over 70% of the people that we treated with our sound therapy had an increase in their ability to hear by 10 decibels,” said Ellis.
Slattery said sound therapy can slightly improve one’s threshold for hearing, but hearing aids are still the standard of care.
“The biggest thing we need to do is continue to tell people they need to protect their ears,” he said.
Slattery said anything you can do to actively work on your hearing will bring some brain benefit. It’s along the same lines as doing word puzzles and keeping up social relationships.
Slattery said tinnitus is one area where sound therapy has been shown to help.
Brown is pleased with his results.
“Pretty quickly. Within a few weeks, it really helped reduce the ringing in my ears,” Brown said.
He said he even had improvement in his hearing.
Now Brown can get back to making music.