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Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), a treatment option for tinnitus in profound hearing loss
  1. Harini Vasudevan1,
  2. Hari Prakash Palaniswamy1 and
  3. Samir Kumar Praharaj2
  1. 1Department of Speech and Hearing, Manipal College of Health Professions (MCHP), Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), Manipal, Karnataka, India
  2. 2Department of Psychiatry, Kasturba Medical College (KMC), Manipal, Karnataka, India
  1. Correspondence to Dr Hari Prakash Palaniswamy; hari.prakash{at}


A 45-year-old man presented with a history of sudden sensory neural hearing loss and severe tinnitus in his left ear. Audiological investigations revealed a profound hearing loss on his left ear and mild conductive hearing loss on his right. Tinnitus pitch and loudness were matched to a 4 kHz narrow-band noise at 50dBHL and subjective tinnitus questionnaires revealed that he had a catastrophic handicap (grade IV). Traditional audiological treatment approaches (tinnitus maskers, hearing aid and sound therapy) that stimulate the cochlea to induce cortical reorganisation were futile. Hence, a top-down approach (transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS)) to directly modulate the cortical centres was attempted. tDCS was provided for a sum of 15 sessions across 2 phases. There was a substantial improvement in the tinnitus loudness, distress and depression scores which maintained for 3 months post-treatment. tDCS is a potential treatment for phantom perceptions (tinnitus) in cases of profound sensory neural hearing loss where there is no residual sensory ability. Tailor-made approaches seem to be more appropriate until a standard protocol for tDCS in tinnitus is established.

  • ear
  • nose and throat/otolaryngology
  • psychiatry

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  • Contributors HPP and SKP contributed in the planning the study, reporting, writing and editing the paper. HV contributed in conducting, reporting, patient contact and in writing.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.