Cell phone ear infections 2 :New cell tool detects ear infections

New cell tool detects ear infections

A new cell phone attachment allows doctors to diagnose ear infections without touching a patient’s ear.

Fever, irritability, and ear pain. Most parents are familiar with the classic signs of an ear infection, and almost all have forced their sick child out of bed to get to a doctor’s office only to be told that rest and fluids are all they need to recover. Luckily new technology may make the office visit a thing of the past. With a new mobile otoscope it is now possible to diagnose ear infections with your smart phone.
Just attach the device to your phone, snap a picture, and email it with notes about symptoms for diagnosis. If the infection is bad enough to warrant antibiotics a doctor can send a prescription request to a nearby pharmacy.
“It’s going to make it so that people can access care from non-traditional settings,” says Erik Douglas, CEO of Cellscope, the company behind the mobile otoscope.

An affordable self-diagnostic

Cellscope is a California-based mobile health start-up that aims to create a “digital first-aid kit” for in-home diagnosis. Cellscope started in 2006 in a University of California Berkeley lab that focused on mobile microscopy. Stemming from that lab is Cellscope’s otoscope, a digital microscope that clips onto a standard smartphone and takes and stores photos of the middle ear. Using the bright LED light from the smartphone, the otoscope is able to get a picture that is similar to what a doctor sees from a traditional otoscope.
Douglas says that the company hopes that the mobile otoscope will soon hit the mass market, much like modern ear thermometers that are now for sale in most drug stores. Cellscope is well on its way to that goal. It separated from the Berkeley lab in 2010 and has since raised $1 million in seed funding.
“Because we’re letting the phone do all the hard work, the actual product will cost in the range of $50-60,” he says. With standard video otoscopes costing over $1,000, the mobile attachment is a steal.

A way to reach the unreachable

The product is particularly useful for those in rural areas. While many regions of the world have little access to basic medical care, they often have access to cell phone networks. The otoscope has already been tested in pilot telemedicine projects in rural India, where it has been used to diagnose ear infections in areas without medical access.
It’s a field that scientists at The University of California in Berkley have been studying for years. A 2009 study by researchers at the university found that cell phone-based clinical microscopy could provide an “important tool for disease diagnosis and screening, particularly in the developing world and rural areas where laboratory facilities are scarce but mobile phone infrastructure is extensive.”
Jody Ranck, eHealth consultant and author of "Connected Health: How mobiles, cloud and big data will reinvent healthcare," says that mobile phones can change the way healthcare is delivered in developing countries.
“The field is expanding rapidly due to the ubiquity of cell phones in developing countries, and efforts to strengthen healthcare systems are putting mobiles forward as a central tool,” he says.

Endless possibilities for mobile health

Mobile health diagnosis is a growing field that is expected to expand even more in coming years. According to a study by tech research firm Juniper research, mobile health app downloads are expected to reach 142 million by 2016. But it’s still emerging, and Ranck says that major obstacles include a lack of data into cost effectiveness, difficulties in cooperation amongst stakeholders, and “fear from some in the health care sector.”
Still, the scope of cell phone diagnosis goes well beyond ear infections. Cellscope already has plans to expand its product offering to cover devices that can diagnose throat and skin ailments. For Douglas, the possibilities are endless.
“The field is changing rapidly and new tools are always becoming available,” he says. “You never know where it is going to go.”

Cool tools for mobile health

Cell phones are being used for more than just ear infection diagnosis. Current and developing products include:
  • Microscopes that attach to your phone to diagnose throat and skin ailments 
  • Blood and saliva analysis via a cell phone’s touch screen
  • Wearable devices with sensors in fabric, contact lenses or implants to monitor vital signs, glucose levels, and other physiological signs
  • SMS reminders for diabetes patients to take medication, visit the doctor, and check glucose levels
  • AIDS test results delivered by SMS where traditional mail service is unreliable
  • Data collection tools that allow for real-time epidemiological surveillance
  • iPhone-enabled blood pressure cuffs

cell phone ear infections

 Don't Hold the Phone

cell phone ear infections
Maybe you're old enough that you don't have to worry about whether it's dangerous to hold a radio transmitter next to your skull, but it's not such a good idea to let your 12-year-old do it.
New tests funded by the cell phone industry show both biological and statistical links between cell phone use and brain cancer. We applaud the industry for releasing the studies despite the early warnings they sound. It's more than the tobacco industry ever did.
Note: It's only hand-held phones that are implicated. Phones mounted in cars, with the antenna outside, appear safe. And so, for that matter, does using a headphone that lets you hold the antenna away from your body.
Of course, these tests are still preliminary so hey, if that call's really all that important, don't let us stop you. Complete story.
John of Randolph, NJ, writes: What about lung cancer found in the lung over which the person stored his "on" cell phone? Interesting that the tumor was estimated to be 1 1/2 years old and my company switched to digital phones about the same time. More interesting is that our phones ranked 6th in power and are no longer manuafactured. Sony stopped all cell phone manufacture.
I finally exchanged the phone for a larger model and used that withnot any problems. I have since purchased another smaller unit and have been using it with no problems. But in the span of these years, I have cropped up with a tremor to my head which is uncontrollable. It was diagnosed as a hereditary trait but there is no one in my families with this trait that I am aware of.
I do believe in my heart that this condition came about because of using the cell phone. And as I read the stories of others, I am even more convinced of it. I am so glad that people are speaking out on this as I have kept quiet about it myself. But as a consumer, we should have the right to pertinent information about causes and effects of cell phones on our health. Thank you for letting me voice my opinion.
Martin of Dallas writes: After opening my business 5 years ago, I began using my phone between 1000 and 2500 minutes per month. About 6 months ago I stated having ear pains. I purchased "hands-free" kits and althugh 2 models helped me, 2 models would actually make it worse.
Now I purchased the speakerphone type. However when I use my phone next to my ear for over 15 minutes a day I have strong ear pains during the evening. I'm somewhat concerned and plan to have studies done soon. Sites like yours are helping me understand the situation a little better.
Stephanie of Lawrenceville, GA, writes: My father was in the telecommunications industry. He used cell phones for many years. He found he had non-Hodgkins lymphoma in his brain in 1997. He was treated and remained in remission for 15 months. It came back in October 1998. He passed away from this 2nd bout with the cancer March 19, 2000.
We have read and heard of so many cases where a lot of people who have brain tumors also use cell phones. I know it is not considered a fact yet. But if and when it is known to be factual I want a class action lawsuit put together and every cell phone manufacturer to pay for the damage and pain that have been caused to so many families.
My father was only 45 years old, a very active man, ate well, excercised. Until this cancer came along. I do believe it is because of cell phones that he got this cancer. Having to watch a loved one slowly die is the most horrible experience and no one should have to go through it.
Imagine having brain cancer. My father all of a sudden one day couldn't do anything, not even sit himself up in bed. My brother and I had to quit our jobs so my mother could keep hers and keep the house to take care of him. In his last 2 weeks of life we had to feed him morphine constantly to make him unaware of the pain he was going through. Now my mother is left a widow, my daughter no longer has her only grandfather whom she loved dearly and my younger brother turned 18 years old 4 days before our father passed away.
I want these cell phone companies to compensate the families who have gone through this.
Greg of Pomona, CA, writes: I have used hand held cell phones for about 5 years. Until a few weeks ago, I used the phone between 500-1,000 minutes per month. For about the last six months, I've been using a Qualcomm phone.
About three months ago, I had a large growth removed from my head near my right ear (the one I hold the cell phone to). Now, I have an ear infection, plus, constant headaches and ringing and pain in my right ear. Plus, I've felt very tired for the last 3 months, or, so.
God knows what is going to happen. I had no idea of the dangers of hand held cell phone use until about two weeks ago.
Fran of Cleveland writes: I have had the Nextel phone for over a year and i am experiencing dull vibrations that lesd to severe headaches while using the Nextel (Motorola) i1000. I have contacted Nextel and they told me that there has been no such complaints. Another employee that uses the Nextel phone also has the same thing happening to him.
Nextel has instructed me to bring in the unit because they feel it is "defective" and "dangerous". I am also scheduled to see my physician regarding this problem.