Tinnitus is a condition that generally affects people who are regularly exposed to loud noises, such as musicians, people who work with heavy machinery, and military veterans. Recent statistics suggest that it affects about one out of 10 adults, and while it is generally distinguished by ringing in the ears, it can also result in more serious consequences, such as insomnia, anxiety, and depression. The condition still has no known cure, but a new form of technology known as the Levo System could offer hope to patients who have long suffered from tinnitus and its symptoms.
According to a report from CBS News, the idea behind the new technology is to accustom tinnitus sufferers to the sounds associated with their condition. The system produces a simulated version of how a patient’s tinnitus sounds like, upon which they are asked to listen to the sounds on an iPod while sleeping, over a span of 90 consecutive nights. As a person’s brain is more flexible while they’re asleep, the researchers behind the technology believe that patients who use Levo will eventually be used to the ringing noises.
“It’s very difficult to say you are going to be able to make the sound disappear completely,” said Dr. Yu-Ting Wong of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, in an interview with CBS News.
“What you’re trying to do with most tinnitus therapies is make the sound more tolerable.”
As explained in a news release published last week by Flagstaff Business News, earlier solutions had to be worn in the daytime and were not able to match tinnitus noises as closely. Aside from working while patients are sleeping at night, the Levo System stands out as each system is customized depending on a patient’s needs, as audiologists work closely with tinnitus sufferers, using “noise makers” in the Levo software to create a matching noise profile. Users can make adjustments to the volume of the noises they need to be blocked out, with these changes tracked on a graph to monitor the patient’s progress.
Speaking to CBS News, tinnitus patient Nick Stein related how he had tried several solutions, including using a fan while sleeping and blocking out the ringing noises with a machine that produced relaxing sounds, to deal with his condition, but to no avail. He credited the Levo System for reducing the ringing sounds by “50 percent,” while improving his well-being in a number of other ways. Stein added that he can now go for several days with hardly any noticeable tinnitus symptoms.
“My mood has improved. My focus has improved,” said Stein.
The Levo System is a Food and Drug Administration-approved product, as pointed out by the CBS News report and the Flagstaff Business News release. Levo packages cost anywhere between $4,000 and $6,000, depending on the buyer’s location, with the price covering the system’s specialized headphones or earbuds, various stages of the setup process, and the device itself.