Electrolytic disorders of the inner ear represent a model that could be implicated in partially explaining the pathogenesis of sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL). Different types of electrolytes and different inner-ear loci are involved in cochlear homeostasis physiologically, to ensure the maintenance of an ion-balanced cochlear environment allowing a normal hair cell function. It has been hypothesized that a sudden loss of endocochlear potential, due to a rapid disruption of the inner ear fluid osmolality, could be responsible for a deterioration of the hearing function caused by damaged hair cells. The aim of this paper was to review the current literature and identify sources which might validate/fortify the hypothesis that inner ear electrolytic disorders have a role in the etiopathogenesis of SSNHL. The data in the literature underline the importance of ionic homeostasis in the inner ear, but they do not support a direct link between SSNHL and electrolyte disorders/imbalances. There is marginal evidence from otoacoustic emissions research that an indirect link might be present.
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