Using a smartphone to sound out sign of kids’ ear infections


In this undated photo provided by the University of Washington in May 2019, Dr. Randall Bly uses a uses a phone app and a paper funnel to focus the sound, to check his daughter for an ear infection, at the UW School of Medicine in Seattle. Bly and other researchers at the school have developed the system to “hear” a warning sign of ear infections _ fluid build-up behind the eardrum.
Dennis Wise, University of Washington via Associated Press

WASHINGTON — 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.

A team of engineers and doctors at the University of Washington developed a simple smartphone approach for acoustic testing: Cut a piece of paper, fold it into a funnel shape and tape it around the phone’s microphone and speakers. Aim the funnel at the ear canal to focus …read more

Source:: Deseret News – U.S. & World News

      

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