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11:39 AM

CBSNewspath: New Technology May Provide Relief for Tinnitus Sufferers

CBSNewspath recently interviewed Cedars-Sinai ear, nose and throat specialist Yu-Tung Wong, MD, about a new technology for patients with tinnitus.

Tinnitus also is called ringing in the ears, and there is no cure for the annoying problem, Wong told CBSNewspath, but there is a new technology that is helping to alleviate symptoms.

Recently approved by the FDA, the Levo System can train the brain to ignore the constant sound. Many people with tinnitus describe the sound as ringing, hissing, whistling, buzzing or humming.

“It’s very difficult to say that you are going to be able to make the sound disappear completely,” Wong told CBSNewspath. “What you’re trying to do with most tinnitus treatments is make the sound more tolerable.”

The system works by mimicking the sound of a patient’s tinnitus. Then, using an iPod, the patient listens to that sound while sleeping for 90 nights in order to make the brain more accustomed to hearing the sound. As the sound becomes more familiar to the patient’s brain, the patient becomes less sensitive to hearing the ringing.

“At nighttime when you’re sleeping, your brain is more plastic. It’s more receptive” to this kind of therapy, Wong said.

Wong’s patient, Nick Stein, told CBSNewspath that before he tried the new system, he tried sleeping with a fan or sound machine on. But since trying the new solution, Stein said, his perception of the ringing has been cut in half.

“My mood has improved,” Stein said. “My focus has improved.”

Even more important, Stein says, he can now go for days without noticing his tinnitus.

Click here to watch and read the complete CBSNewspath story.

Photo courtesy of the National Institutes of Health.