Diagnosing ear infections from home?

Cold and flu season is upon us and that means ear infections. Anyone can get an ear infection (a dear friend in her mid-30s had a nasty one this past year) but children are more prone to them because their immune systems and middle ears are still developing. Five out of six children will have at least one ear infection by their third birthday, and ear infections are the most common reason parents bring their child to a doctor!

For this reason, the folks at CellScope have just released Oto HOME, a device that you attach to your smartphone and use to take a video of your child’s ear drum (or perhaps your own). Without visiting the doctor, you can send the video for a diagnosis. We’ve noticed that the Oto HOME has been getting a lot of press the past few days here in the Bay Area. And last year, Stephen Colbert even tried it out on his show, with some humorous results.  

In the segment, Colbert jokes, “Is Siri a Doctor?” It’s important to remember that she is not but that smartphones hold great potential for increasing the efficiency and accessibility of hearing healthcare. Sound <3s technology, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for Oto HOME™ and similar devices.

Do remember that if you suspect an ear infection, please contact your doctor or pediatrician! Left untreated, an ear infection can seriously damage the ear. Check out this NIH website for discussion about ear infection symptoms, causes, and treatment.