A Smartphone App And A Paper Funnel Could Help Parents Diagnose Kids' Ear Infections Researchers are developing a smartphone app that, with the help of a simple paper funnel, might help parents detect fluid buildup in a child's ear – one symptom of an ear infection.
"All you really need to do to detect ear fluid is use sound," says Justin Chan, a graduate student at the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Some of those children then underwent previously planned surgery on their eardrums, and that allowed doctors to verify the results of the app.
Fluid behind the eardrum is a symptom of ear infection, but "not all fluid is an infection," says Pamela Mudd, an ear, nose and throat specialist at Children's National Health System in Washington, D.C. "It would be more of a test to [see if] there is something going on behind the eardrum that may be affecting my child," rather than diagnosing an ear infection.
When she examines a child's ear and can't tell by looking, she refers the child to a clinic where doctors use an instrument called a tympanometer, which measures fluid behind the eardrum using sound waves.