First smartphone app that can hear ear infections in children

By Lysette Maurice N. Sandoval, Parent Herald May 16, 08:33 am

Are you one of those parents who is wondering whether their child is suffering from an ear infection or not? It is not about worrying too much or knowing too little. An ear infection is often left undiagnosed until everything else in the body hurts. That's the only time parents decide to take their kids to see the doctor and a diagnosis of an ear infection is given. How could you miss that out? Don't fret as experts say there will soon be a mobile app that will help you make an ear infection diagnosis at home.

Did you know that ear infections are one of the first health concerns that people experience? Before a child reaches the age of three, they have had experienced a case of ear infection. Such infections often start with fluid build up in the ears. This type of infection is called otitis media where the infected area is mainly focused in the middle part of the ear. Although these types of infections often go away even without medication. However, too much fluid in the ears could cause pain and sometimes, such small infections could cause complications that lead loss of the ability to hear.

The authors of the study published their results in the journal of Science Translational Medicine. The study suggest the app will be highly-accessible yet inexpensive test that could deliver immediate results. The goal is to make sure that the app is able to rival the accuracy that is provided by the results in the doctor's clinic.

"If this app can give accurate diagnosis similar to that of an ear specialist, it could really bring about a significant change in how ear infections are managed globally," said Justin Chang, one of the co-authors of the study. "It is a little bit similar to the tapping of a wine glass. The sound that you hear will depend on whether the glass is half empty or half full. The same principle can be applied to this type of testing through the app."

The initial phase of the research had children as test patients. Since most children are more apt to developing ear infections because they could not easily say that there is something inside their ear until they start to cry in pain. The app was able to correctly diagnose five children who all had ear infections. The experiments using the mobile app is still going on. They want to make sure that correct diagnosis and guesses are made every time.

Ideally, the app can be used by patients while at home. However, when the testing proves positive, it is best to take the patient to the ear specialist for a more thorough diagnosis. After that, medication will be given and all will be well.

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