Earcheck: I'm Not A Hypochondriac. I'm A Mother.

03/06/2009 at 10:45 AM ET

My 9-month-old son Egan was just diagnosed with his fifth ear infection, so I know firsthand how frustrating it is to diagnose something you cannot see.

In our case, Egan is mostly happy, not feverish and not pulling on his ears when he has a raging infection. More than one doctor has said “Then why did you bring him in?” before they confirmed my layman’s diagnosis. Coincidentally, when I returned from the pediatrician this time, Earcheck ($55) was on my doorstep.

Earcheck uses sound waves to detect fluid buildup in the middle ear. Just stabilize the child and pull the ear up and back, stick in the earcheck (it’s shaped so you can’t put it in too far) and press its only button. While it’s scanning it emits a series of soft chirps, nothing loud enough to damage a child’s hearing, then after a couple of seconds it shows a clear rating of one (fluid unlikely) to five (consult a doctor).

Because I knew my son had a double ear infection on the day I was testing it, I knew for sure that this tool would be really useful. One ear ranked a four and the other a five and the results were consistent after several scans. (Be sure to follow the directions, though. If you don’t pull the ear it will give an inaccurate reading.)

Finally there’s a gadget that can support a mother’s intuition, however accurate that may be!

— Kristen

CBB Deal: Save 20% off your entire order at www.earcheck.com when you use coupon code ‘CBB20’.  Expires April 15, 2009.

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Showing 8 comments

Dawn on

I have this but I have to say it’s not worth it. It consantly shows an error message and there were a couple of times where it said my son had an infection but turns out he didn’t. I’ve also had where it showed he didn’t but did. You need to have complete silence in your house and have your child stay very quiet and still which is tough enough!

Becky on

Oh NOW I find this when my daugther has finally outgrown ear infections. I will definetly get this when I have another child. I always knew when she had an ear infection. She never pulled on her ears or didn’t sleep/eat, she would just be crabby. She was never a crabby baby, unless she had an ear infection. Her doctor’s child was the same way so she never questioned when I said she had an ear infection but every once in a while we saw a different doctor and they asked all the questions “is she sleeping?” “is she eating?” “is she pulling on her ears?” and when I said yes yes and no, they would look at me funny and say, well how do you know? Just trust me, I know, and sure enough. Every once in a while though I was wrong and wasted a co-pay for nothing so this would be great. I also sometimes didn’t think she did and would push it off until a few days later I realized she really did. Some babies just don’t show it, so this would be great!

Monica on

My son was the Otis Media Poster Boy when he was a baby and I ended up getting an Otoscope from The Right Start. I don’t know if they are still in business. My kids are 14 & 12 and I still use it. Even on Dad! Our doctor did give me lessons and they know I know what I’m talking about when I call. My son did end up having tubes — twice but I regret not having them placed sooner.
He ended up having speech therapy as a result of barely hearing that first year. So if your ent reccomends it don’t hesitate!

Karey on

As a mom to a little girl who has had two sets of surgical ear tubes, I bought every product I could find. We bought an Earcheck a few years ago (along with an old-fashioned lighted ear scope). Perhaps the Earcheck has improved since we purchased ours, but I found it to be completely inaccurate. It almost never gave me correct results; I even used it on myself and it almost always said I had an infection. An ear scope is much more accurate if you know what to look for; our pediatrician taught us what to look for (not that we could ever replace an actual doctor, and when we were in doubt we headed straight to the doctor). Basically, a healthy eardrum is colored pearly pink and looks clear/translucent. An infected ear drum is red or red-tinged, and looks swollen.

All in all, the best course of action for us was to watch our daughters’ mood. If she became irritable, ate poorly, tugged on her ears, seemed like she was falling alot (ear infections can change equilibrium and make kids seem clumsy), or had difficulty sleeping, we knew it was time to go to the doctor. I think you should save the $55 and leave it up to your pediatrician, parental instincts and your baby’s behavior.

Mae on

My sister in law bought it for my niece and nephew. This is a great idea, unfortunately it doesn’t really work.

I have always had terrible ear infections, but I have never been able to feel them. I’ve never once been in any pain, it’s quite strange.

My ear infections get really bad, I’ve had to be checked into the hospital a few times just to get put on an antibiotic drip over night. I never pulled on my ears, or rubbed them, because I don’t feel the pain, and they don’t itch or anything. When I was a kid my pediatrician taught my Mom how to check my ears with an ear scope, she checked my ears 2 times a week. His office was 35 minutes away from our home, so it helped a lot. At 17 she still checks my ears weekly, which may seem crazy, but it works.

I never had tubes, because my Doctor and ENT both agreed they wouldn’t work for me, and the type of infections I get.

If you want a sure way to check for ear infections, I suggest an ear scope.

CBB Kristen on

The version of Earcheck I reviewed has been reworked and reissued because the original version (3-4 years ago) had some problems with incorrect readings. Our pediatrician said they use something similar, though likely a professional version, to detect infections they can’t see in an otoscope. I would never stay home from the doctor if it gave an “all clear” when I suspected an infection, but I found it useful for my family.

Lesley on

I purchased this last year and find it to be completely inaccurate. I have taken my son to the pediatrician several times when the indicator was at the highest level and they told me his ears looked fine. I’ve pretty much given up with it!

lisa on

My kids are long past the ear infection stage, but they too went through them, without the normal signs, ie pulling ears, not sleeping.
But like so many have said, I watched and KNEW when they had infections. I didn’t need a $55 toy to tell me to take them to the doctor.

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