New technology helps treat Tinnitus patients for ‘ringing of the ears’

LOS ANGELES, Cal. -- It's a condition commonly recognized as ringing in the years and it affects 50 million Americans.

Health professionals call it "Tinnitus". For some people, it can be debilitating.

CBS News' Danielle Nottingham reports on how a new technology is helping alleviate the symptoms for those people.

Nick Stein says he's tried just about everything to relieve the ringing in his ears 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," Stein says.

So, his doctor suggested he try the Levo System.

Dr. Yu-Tung Wong of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center says the recently FDA cleared therapy trains the brain to ignore the ringing.

"Tt'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 make the sound more tolerable," says Dr. 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 non-stop. The brain becomes more accustomed to the sound over that time.

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

Nick believes the sound of his ringing has been reduced by 50%.

"My mood has improved, my focus has improved."

He says he's grateful 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.