New treatment hopes to provide relief for 50 million Americans suffering from tinnitus
Tinnitus is a problem that plagues up to 15% of the American population. It's a constant ringing in the ears without a cure.
The American Tinnitus Association says hearing loss induced by loud noises or age is a frequent factor but trauma, ear canal blockages, and even taking some prescription medications can cause the ringing, a ringing for which there is no cure.
"I tried masking, including have to have a fan on when I went to sleep or having a machine that makes sounds like the sound of rain," said Nick Stein who suffers from tinnitus.
Nick Stein says he's tried just about everything to relieve the ringing in his ears. His doctors suggested he try the Levo System.
Dr. Yu-Tung Wong of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center says recently the FDA cleared therapy trains the brain to ignore the ringing.
"It's very difficult to say you are going to be able to make the sound disappear completely, what you're trying to do with most tinnitus therapies is to make the sound more tolerable," said Dr. Yu-Tung Wong.
The technology mimics the sound of a patient's tinnitus. The patient then listens to the sound on an iPod while sleeping for 90 nights nonstop. The brain becomes more accustomed to the sound over that time.
"At night time when you're sleeping, your brain is more plastic, it's more receptive to these kinds of changes," said Dr. Yu-Tung Wong.
Nick believes the sound of his ringing has been reduced by 50%. "My mood has improved, my focus has improved," Stein said.
He says he's grateful he can now go for days and hardly notice his tinnitus.