Deaf news: Could a “kiss of deaf” damage your hearing?

Posted on April 3, 2012


In one of the more bizarre explanations for deafness (and no, this wasn’t dated April 1st) Dr Levi Reiter, a professor of audiology at Hofstra University in New York, has claimed that an innocent kiss on the ear can cause “cochlear ear-kiss injury,” leading to permanent hearing loss.

Dr Reiter has been studying the phenomenon ever since a woman told him she went deaf in one ear immediately after her five-year old son kissed her there. He soon found another case of ‘ear-kiss injury’ in the 1950s and has now identified a further 30 cases around the world.

An article for MSNBC quotes Reiter as saying: “Ear-kiss patients exhibit a characteristic pattern of hearing loss, with hearing most diminished in the frequency range of unvoiced consonants, such as “ch” and “sh.” There are a lot of cases of unknown unilateral hearing loss in kids, and I am sure that a good portion are from a peck on the ear.”

The article also says that Reiter ‘believes that the intense suction on the eardrum pulls the chain of three tiny bones in the ear. The third bone, the stirrup-shaped stapes, then tugs on the stapedial annular ligament, causing turbulence in the fluid of the cochlea, or inner ear.’

This phenomenon is now considered an “emerging topic in the field” by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and could leave a lot of Deafies wondering whether our deafness was really down to genetics, or whether we were just amazingly cute babies who attracted one too many kisses from admiring adults. Personally, I’m going with the latter.

Read the full article here: http://vitals.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/03/29/10906327-innocent-kiss-of-deaf-can-cause-permanent-hearing-loss

By Charlie Swinbourne, Editor

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