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March 29, 2012

Kissing the Ear Can Cause Permanent Hearing Loss

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MSNBC reported 3/29/12 about a phenomenon called cochlear ear-kiss injury. This condition is when hearing loss occurs after a person kisses someone else over the ear, usually a mom over a baby's or child's ear.

Right after the kiss, a person can suffer from immediate and potentially permanent hearing loss along with other symptoms including ringing, sensitivity to sound, sound distortion, and aural fullness.

How or why does this occur?

With a kiss, a strong suction is created within the ear canal that pulls on the eardrum which tugs on the middle ear bones that can lead to turbulence within the inner ear.

Infants are particularly susceptible to this condition given their ear canals are SO small and the suction created by an adult kiss over the ear can be so strong.

There are other variations of this type of ear/hearing injury.

Barotrauma of the ear can lead to similar type issues due to sudden pressure changes from flying, parachute jumping, diving into water, SCUBA, snorkeling, etc.

Getting slapped over the ear can do the same thing as cochlear ear-kiss injury, but in reverse. Rather than suction from a kiss creating strong negative pressure within the ear canal, a slap over the ear creates sudden strong positive pressure.

At times, such pressure changes can get so severe that the eardrum can rupture.

Source:
Innocent 'kiss of deaf' can cause permanent hearing loss. MSNBC 3/29/12

The kiss of deaf: Four-year-old's big smooch left her mom with partial hearing loss. Newsday. June 7, 2008

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