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?

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