The simple act of affection with a kiss can lead to deafness. By giving an infant, child, or even a grown adult a kiss on the ear can cause the recipient to have troubling ear symptoms like sensitivity to sound, ringing, distortion, and aural fullness. A kiss on the ear opening creates a strong suction force that pulls on the fragile eardrum causing hearing loss. This condition has become known as the “cochlear ear-kiss injury”. A kiss to an infants ear is much more dangerous than to an adult ear because of the damage to the delicate ear structures. There are two dangers in a kiss to the ear: the level of noise from the kiss and the pressure changes within the ear. The suction can cause perforation of the eardrum, disrupption of the 3 small bones (malleus, incus, and stapes), and loss of hair cells inside the fluid filled cochlea. It is believed that the pressure from the suction causes the stirrup-shaped stapes bone to pull on the stapedial annular ligament which creates turbulence in the fluid of the inner ear.
Most of these “kiss of deaf” patients exhibit similar patterns of hearing loss with a dimished frequency range of unvoices consonants like “ch” and “sh”. To the patients they hear muffled speech as if listening through some type of screen. The ear-kiss recipients have to resort to hearing aids to restore their hearing. For some patients the tinnitus caused by the kiss suction had healed over time but still continued to express hearing loss.
These “kiss of deaf” cases are rare but word must be spread that one should not kiss another on the ear. To prevent any type of hearing loss and permanent damage to the inner ear resist the urge to kiss another’s ear. Although infants and children are cute and adorable it is very important to not kiss their ears for there is a greater degree of damage to their inner ear.
If you have experienced hearing loss after a kiss to the ear please call Live Better Hearing at 301-977-6317!