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An app detects ear infections in children

Ear infections in young children are the most common cause of pediatric consultation and a team at the University of Washington has created an application for the mobile phone that allows the detection of fluid accumulation and a home diagnosis.

The researchers, who published their invention in the journal Science Transnational Medicine, noted that otitis occurs when fluid accumulates in the middle ear behind the eardrum.

For parents, there is cause for concern, as it is difficult to diagnose the disease because young children cannot explain what is for them. Sometimes children have fever or stretch their ears, but in other cases there are no visible symptoms.

In some cases, acute nonsense leads to serious complications such as meningitis and other pediatric conditions, including otitis, related to speech delays and poor academic performance.

Researcher Justin Chan and Shyam Gollakota of the University of Washington in Seattle invented a solution that simply requires a small paper funnel and a smartphone where the application is installed.

"The design of a precise survey tool on something as common as a mobile phone can be crucial for fathers and mothers, and also for medical personnel in regions with limited resources," said Gollakoa, professor at Paul G School. Allen of computer science and technology.

"An important advantage of our technology is that it does not require more equipment than a paper and an app on the mobile," he added.

The application works by sending sound in the ear and measuring how these sound waves change when they bounce off the eardrum. The caregiver can make a paper funnel that is placed in the ear and controls sound waves in the ear canal.

When the phone emits a continuous sound of 150 milliseconds, which looks like a bird's chirp, the phone's microphone picks up both chirping and bouncing. If there is accumulated fluid disturb the waves in the sounded sound they emitted.

"It's like tapping your fingers on a glass of wine," says co-author Justin Chan, a graduate student at Allen School. "Depending on how much fluid is in the cup, the sound is different. Using the equipment, we can detect the presence of fluid."

When there is no fluid behind the eardrum, it vibrates and sends a variety of sounds that interfere less with the initial signal, creating a broad and thorough decline in the overall signal.

But when there is fluid, the eardrum does not vibrate well and reflects the original signal that interferes more and creates a deep and narrow fall in the signal being emitted.

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