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Date: Jun 20, 2008
"The Kiss of Deaf"
Hofstra Audiology Professor Levi Reiter Treats Mom Whose Hearing Loss was Caused by a KissHofstra University, Hempstead, NY … Dr. Levi Reiter, Hofstra professor of speech-language-hearing sciences and head of the University’s Audiology Program, has been receiving worldwide media attention for research he has been conducting on a condition he termed the "Kiss of Deaf." The research centers on a patient of Dr. Reiter’s private practice in Brooklyn. This Long Island mother experienced continuous hearing loss and severe pain after her young daughter kissed her emphatically on the ear more than a year and a half earlier.
After seeing a number of different hearing specialists, the woman read about Dr. Reiter in a winter 2007 Newsday article and contacted him.
Dr. Reiter found that the suction from the little girl's kiss did in fact cause a plethora of ear symptoms, including permanent hearing loss, facial twitching and tinnitus. Dr. Reiter's diagnosis was that "the suction caused by the kiss pulled her tympanic membrane outwards. This pulled her ossicular chain until it detached the stapedial ligament, causing a series of explainable sequelae."
Though the diagnosis may seem complicated, the lesson to be learned is not: the ears are a delicate mechanism and any intense suction on the ear – even that of a kiss – may lead to permanent damage, no matter how harmless and sweet the intention. Dr. Reiter has also warned that if children must be reminded about the sensitivity of the ears, adults must also be cognizant and protective of their babies' and children's tiny ears in displays of affection.
Since an initial article ran in Newsday on June 8, 2008, Dr. Reiter has been interviewed about "The Kiss of Deaf" on MSNBC, the CBS Early Show and WCBS-TV. The article has also appeared in newspapers worldwide. Dr. Reiter's research will also appear in The Hearing Journal and a number of other trade publications. Dr. Reiter has also received dozens of phone calls from people who experienced similar situations as the young mother, encouraging Dr. Reiter to continue his research on this painful and debilitating condition.
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