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New technology offers hope for people with tinnitus

Hope for tinnitus sufferers
New technology offers hope for tinnitus sufferers 01:20

Nick Stein says he's tried just about everything to relieve the ringing in his ears -- a condition called tinnitus. "I tried masking, including having to have a fan on when I went to sleep, or having a machine that makes sounds, like the sound of rain or a burbling brook," he told CBS News.

According to a 2016 report published online in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, approximately one in 10 adults lives with tinnitus. There is no cure, but doctors recommend treatment with hearing aids, white noise machines and even talk therapy to make the condition more bearable.

Now, there is a new option: the Levo System. Dr. Yu-Tung Wong of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center said the recently 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," he told CBS News. "What you're trying to do with most tinnitus therapies is make the sound more tolerable."

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 non-stop. The brain becomes more accustomed to the sound over that time.

"At nighttime when you're sleeping your brain is more plastic," Wong said. "It's more receptive to these kinds of changes."

Stein said he believes the treatment has resulted in the sound of his ringing being reduced by 50 percent. He's also seen other benefits.

"My mood has improved. My focus has improved," he said.

He said he's grateful that he can now go for days and hardly notice his tinnitus.

Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles is a part-owner of the FDA-cleared Levo System. It was not developed at the hospital.  

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