Where’s the one place you should never kiss a baby…or anyone else? The ear!
An innocent kiss right on the ear opening creates a strong suction that tugs on the delicate eardrum, resulting in a recently recognized condition known as “cochlear ear-kiss injury.” Such a kiss can lead not only to permanent hearing loss, but a host of other troubling ear symptoms including ringing, sensitivity to sound, distortion and aural fullness.
Hofstra University’s Dr. Levi Reiter has been studying the phenomenon and has identified more than 30 ear-kiss victims thus far. He is preparing to submit his most recent findings to the International Journal of Audiology and the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology. He has found that ear-kiss patients exhibit a characteristic pattern of hearing loss, Reiter said, with hearing most diminished in the frequency range of unvoiced consonants, such as “ch” and “sh.”
It is known that unilateral hearing loss can be acquired from a blow to the ear, impulse noise (like an exploding firecracker) on one side of the head, or a Q-tip pushed too far, and now we might be able to add a peck to the ear to this list. Dr. Reiter states that “the kiss of deaf” may be the cause of the currently unknown unilateral hearing loss in kids.
Babies and small children are particularly vulnerable to hearing damage via kiss, simply because their ear canals are smaller. A baby will cry after such a painful kiss, he says, but “kids cry for a lot of reasons.” Unfortunately, hearing loss usually isn’t identified until years later, during a school screening.
There is no current treatment or cure for the “kiss of deaf” so as a tip make sure to keep your kisses for your little one away from their ears!