Researchers have created a way for a smartphone to “hear” a warning sign of ear infections — fluid buildup behind the eardrum.
If it pans out, parents might one day check their tots’ ears at home simply using a phone app
and “stuff you have around the house — paper, tape and scissors,” said one of the lead researchers, Dr. Sharat Raju of the University of Washington.
Ear infections are one of the most common reasons for pediatrician visits.
Even if there’s no infection, fluid that builds up in the middle ear still can be painful and
sometimes can muffle hearing enough to affect speech development.
Diagnosis is difficult. Usually a pediatrician will peek into the child’s ear to see if the eardrum is inflamed,
and parents can buy devices that use cameras to do the same thing.
But ear specialists tend to use pricier, more complex tests that measure if the eardrum is pliable enough to
vibrate correctly in response to sound, or is stiff from the pressure of fluid behind it.
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