If you’re happy to take your hearing aids out to auscultate and have good low-frequency hearing, you’re fine using a standard stethoscope.
If you have poor low-frequency hearing, you’ll need an amplified stethoscope and unless your hearing impairment is too great, you can simply take out your hearing aids when you use the stethoscope.
CICs can be a bit fiddly so some people work with one in and one out. Remember, using a stethoscope in only one ear, sounds will only be half as loud.
Open fit BTEs can be uncomfortable to flip in and out. Normal BTE moulds can be flipped out easily, leaving the hearing aid hooked over your ear. If the aids keep slipping off, you can use toupee tape or little stickies to stick the aids to your head or ear at the beginning of the day.
This is the most straightforward option as it’s sometimes tricky setting up an electronic stethoscope along with hearing aids. Why complicate things if you don’t need to? However there are a couple of things to be aware of that might influence your choice:
- Adapted earpieces, custom ear moulds and headphones. Depending on your hearing aids, you might be able to use Steth-O-Mates or have custom ear moulds made. And an electronic stethoscope may also give you the option of using headphones. These are all quick and convenient in use. So are worth knowing about.
- Funding. It’s worth knowing about funding in case it’s available to you now but not later. Access to Work may fund the full cost of equipment if you apply while out of work, are about to begin a new job or if you apply within 6 weeks of starting a new job or are self-employed. In other situations, they only fund a proportion. Students may be able to pay for equipment with the Disabled Students’ Allowance. So if your situation is likely to change and you might want or need a different stethoscope later on, have a look at what’s available now.
If you can’t get 100% funding now, then you may want to wait and see what happens. As technology improves, there may be advances in equipment. On the other hand, we’re not a huge customer base so there is the possibility that manufacturers will stop producing equipment as has happened with the Starkey ST3, the Cardionics ViScope and the UK supply of the Cardionics E-scope. Whatever you do, don’t buy first and apply later. Access to Work (and I think, Disabled Students’ Allowance) won’t fund in retrospect.