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August 01, 2012

A kiss on the ear can be dangerous to your hearing

An innocent gesture can quite literally be ”?the kiss of deaf'. Research shows that a kiss on the ear can cause permanent hearing loss.

A kiss on the ear can be dangerous to your hearing

When we want to show affection or gratitude to friends or family, we often do it with a kiss on the ear. But even though this kiss can have good intentions, it can end with permanent hearing impairment.

An innocent kiss on the ear opening can create a strong suction that tugs on the delicate eardrum. This intense suction on the eardrum pulls the chain of three tiny bones in the ear. With this ”?kiss of deaf', the stapes can tug on the tissue that connects the stapes to the oval window of the inner ear. This causes turbulence in the fluid of the cochlea, or inner ear, and can lead to hearing loss.

Prevention is the best cure

Dr. Levi Reiter is a professor in audiology at Hofstra University in New York, USA and has identified more than 30 ear-kiss victims. According to his patients, the ear-kiss injury feels like being hit by a ball on the ear. One of them says that it is like hearing through a screen of some sort, and that in the ”?kissy ear', speech is totally muffled.

Though hearing aids may help ear-kiss victims to hear better, some people with a ”?kissy ear' still experience intermittent sensations of aural fullness and an itch in the inner ear.

Dr. Levi Reiter speculates that an injection of steroids through the eardrum might be a possible treatment. This type of injection is normally used in cases of sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL), but to be successful the treatment has to start shortly after the person experiences hearing loss.

However, the treatment has yet to be tried on ear-kiss victims. Meanwhile, the symptoms do not tend to go away.  As a result prevention is the best way to avoid ”?the kiss of deaf'.


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