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Dear Matthew Alice:

I recently heard that eating a big meal can affect a person's hearing. After a person has eaten, he cannot hear as well. Is this true?

-- P.S., San Diego

Can you speak up? I just ate a burrito. Actually, according to Ma Alice, president of Martyrs Anonymous, the threshold of human hearing declines only selectively after a meal. On a scrap of paper in her housecoat pocket, she has data confirming that in the first postprandial hour, Pa Alice is completely deaf to the words "help," "dishes," and "Get out from in front of the TV."

The Alices aside, I consulted with Dr. Otto Scope, staff quack, renoned diplomate of the American Academy of Diseases of the Rich. He says if you thing you heard that eating affects your ears, you have a life-threatening earwax buildup. But he can cure that and throw in a cosmetic lobe reduction for a price in the low four figures if you'll just step this way. About the only connection between your full stomach and your ears is the fact that digestion diverts some blood temporarily from other body parts. But certainly not enough to affect hearing. Snap, Crackle, and Pop would be on welfare today if we all went deaf at the breakfast table. Perhaps dinner can affect your hearing if you're a very poor aim with a fork and tend to clog your ears with macaroni and cheese.

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