First smartphone app that can “hear” ear infections in children

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Dr. Randall Bly, an assistant professor of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at the UW School of Medicine who practices at Seattle Children’s Hospital, uses the app and funnel to check his daughter’s ear.

Ear infections are the most common reason that parents bring their children to a pediatrician, according to the National Institutes of Health.

This condition occurs when fluid builds up in the middle ear behind the eardrum and is infected. This buildup is also common in another condition called otitis media with effusion. Any kind of fluid buildup can be painful and make it hard for children to hear, which can be especially detrimental when they are learning to talk.

Both conditions are hard to diagnose because they have vague symptoms: Sometimes children tug on their ears or have fevers, and sometimes there are no symptoms. In addition, young children may not be able to describe where they hurt.

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