University of Washington

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

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...

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