Mitochondrial diseases (MD) are a clinically heterogeneous group of disorders that arise as a result of dysfunction of the mitochondrial respiratory chain. Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) is often associated to mitochondrial dysfunctions both in syndromic, nonsyndromic forms. SNHL has been described in association to different mitochondrial multisystemic syndromes, often characterized by an important neuromuscular involvement. Because of the clinical relevance of the associated neurological symptoms, the occurrence of SNHL is often underestimated and undiagnosed. In this study we evaluated the incidence of SNHL in a group of 17 patients with MD. We detected some degree of hearing impairment in 8/17 patients (47%), thus confirming the frequency of hearing impairment in MD. Furthermore, we want to highlight the role of the audiologist and otolaryngologist in the diagnosis and characterization of a MD, which should be suspected in all the cases in which the hearing loss is associated to signs and symptoms characteristic of mitochondrial dysfunction, especially if the family history is positive for hearing loss or MD in the maternal line.

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