Stethoscopes

Don’t stress out about stethoscopes!

Stethoscopes and what to do about them causes many of us a lot of unnecessary anxiety. One of the most helpful tips I have been given by other deaf and hard of hearing health professionals is not to stress out about auscultation. It’s only a small part of our work and likely to be perfectly possible.

Some electronic stethoscopes can be used with or without hearing aids and some can give a visual display. And depending on your hearing impairment and preferences, you may not need an electronic stethoscope.

There’s no “one size fits all” solution and once you know a bit about heart and lung sounds in relation to your audiogram and your hearing aids or implant if you have them, you’ll have a good idea what’s going to suit you.

The decision begins with two questions: do you need amplification? And do you want to keep your hearing aids in when you use a stethoscope? To tailor your choice to your own situation and preferences begin at “Do I need amplification” and follow the links through.

If you prefer to jump straight to the stethoscope quick comparison chart I recommend you come back later to Do I need amplification? and Limitations of hearing aids and implants. Hearing aids and implants have some limitations which could mean you miss some heart and lung sounds. So if you jumped straight to the chart, it’s wise to come back and read these pages so you understand what precautions to take.

Once you have a good idea of your options, you may also want to get two stethoscopes for a trial period so you can compare them. Trying out different configurations such as headphones and eartips as well.

Once you’ve read these pages, I hope you’ll have a good idea of what you’d like to try. Feel free to contact me if you have further questions or are having difficulty getting set up.

Thinklabs has also produced some helpful information. See their brief introduction here and options for using a stethoscope with hearing aids here.

There’s an excellent article in the Hearing Review here (though it’s got a wrong table online at the moment. I’m trying to contact them to replace it) and an article here from Audiology Online. Both are useful for audiologists and for deaf and HoH health professionals ourselves. They are quite old so some of the stethoscopes they mention may not be available now and there are new ones on the market.

Step one: Do I need amplification?

4 thoughts on “Stethoscopes”

    1. Hi Kesia,

      I’m not a supplier. Do read my posts about stethoscopes to help you work out what is good for you try first. If you’d like some advice following that, feel free to contact me.

      You may prefer to use the contact form rather than comments. I’ll need some information about your hearing and any aids or implants you use. So you may prefer the privacy of the contact form that comes direct to me.

      Kind regards,
      Clare

  1. Hi,
    I am about to start a midwifery course in September but I am worrying about the whole stethoscope thing.

    I wear two hearing aids and I am able to hear without them but only slightly. I already work in a mental health unit and have tried out the manual ones which confirmed that I cant really hear out of them, it is very faint in a quite room, so with added background noise I wont be able to hear.

    What would you suggest is the best one? I would prefer to keep my hearing aids in as I dont have alot of confidence with people knowing I have them and wouldn’t want to miss anything.

    Thank you.
    Chelsea.

    1. Hi Chelsea.

      There are a few things to take into account to work out the best set-up for you. There are various possibilities. It’s much easier to advise when I know about your hearing and aids. Otherwise I have to go into detail about everything.

      • What is the pattern and degree of your hearing loss? If you have an audiogram you can photo/scan and send me, that’s easiest. If not, is your hearing poor in the low frequencies? ie 250-3000Hz, the left-hand side of the audiogram. And how poor is it at those frequencies? ie how many dB loss – how far down on the audiogram?

      • I need some information about your hearing aids:
      o Are they behind the ear, in the ear, completely in canal? See photos in this leaflet: https://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/-/media/ahl/documents/publications/factsheets-and-leaflets/leaflets/getting-hearing-aids-leaflet.pdf
      o Do they have earmoulds or open-fit (ie domes?) Photos on same leaflet and I’ll email you a photo that shows domes more clearly.
      o If earmoulds, do they have vents? Look at the bit of the earmould that goes in your ear. Are there two holes or only one? If two, one has the tube and the other is a vent. Sorry, I don’t think I have a photo on the website yet so I’ll email one to you.

      I’ve emailed this reply to you but have posted it here too so others know what the factors to take into account are.

      By the way, loads of us have found it’s way better to let people know you have a hearing loss. It makes a really big difference. I’ve written about it at http://hphl.org.uk/being-up-front .

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