Best Stethoscope For Hearing Impaired Medical Professionals: Scoping Out

When health concerns arise, people turn to medical professionals for advice; but what do medical professionals do when they’re the ones in need of assistance?

Medical professionals have health concerns of their own that we might not think about. From loss of mobility to loss of hearing or eyesight, healthcare professionals face many of the same issues that their patients do.

It may not seem obvious at first, but hearing impairment or hearing loss can be a very real barrier for people who want to enter the medical field. Hearing is quite important for a lot of medical processes and procedures. Medical professionals need their hearing to be able to listen to the different organic sounds of the body, and they need their hearing for clear communication in an operating room. We often take for granted how a good sense of hearing makes the conduct of professional life so much smoother.

Fortunately, hearing impairment is not an insurmountable challenge for those in medicine. Performing auscultation on a patient is not impossible even with hearing loss. The right stethoscope can save you the expense and frustration of repeated attempts to find a working solution.

It’s time for you to use a stethoscope that works as hard as you do! Let’s find out how to choose the best stethoscope for hearing impaired people.


How Does Sound Travel From The Stethoscope To The Ear?

We all have a general idea of how a stethoscope works. The chestpiece is placed on a patient’s body, against their chest, back, or stomach. The sounds that are picked up from these areas move through the stethoscope tubing, binaurals, eartips, and into the user’s ears. But to better understand how our stethoscopes can improve your professional life, let’s examine the process a bit more closely.

When the stethoscope chestpiece or head is placed against a patient’s skin, how exactly is sound picked up by the stethoscope?

Sound is composed of vibrations that move in a wave pattern, which is why these vibrations are called sound waves. Sound waves travel by causing objects to vibrate, and these vibrating objects, in turn, cause other nearby objects to vibrate. This is how sound moves and travels.

Sound waves travel through a person’s body, and these waves cause the diaphragm of the stethoscope to vibrate. Stethoscope diaphragms are usually made of plastic and shaped into thin, flat discs that “absorb” sound.

Stethoscope Tubing

The tubing is then responsible for transmitting and directing these sound waves to the other parts of the stethoscope. The presence of the tubing ensures that the sound waves picked up by the diaphragm don’t travel in all directions, but are instead confined inside the tubing.

Sound waves travel along the length of the stethoscope by reflecting off the inner surface of the tubing. The sound waves continue this process, passing through the eartubes and the eartips until they reach the user’s ears.

Higher-pitched sound waves move at higher frequencies. This means that these sound waves move with more speed and energy. Higher-pitched sounds, like breath sounds and normal heart sounds, directly cause the surface of the diaphragm to vibrate. Lower-pitched sounds, like heart murmurs and bowel sounds, typically have a harder time getting the diaphragm to vibrate.


What Stethoscope Features Are Important If You’re Hearing-Impaired?

For best results for a hearing-impaired person using a stethoscope, two things are important: sound amplification and noise reduction. These two features are critical to getting thebest sound quality out of a stethoscope. For hearing-impaired medical professionals especially, both processes are equally important for getting a clear and accurate sound.

Here’s a breakdown of how each feature works:

Sound Amplification

There are different ways of amplifying sound or making it louder. Sound moves in waves and the key to sound amplification is getting sound waves to move with more energy. Heart, lung, and bowel sounds are very difficult to hear on their own without a stethoscope. The human ear can only do so much, especially when you’re listening to sounds that have to pass through flesh and bone.

Acoustic Stethoscopes

In stethoscopes, sound amplification happens with or without electronic assistance. The traditional acoustic stethoscopes that we know amplify sound simply through their design and construction—that is, without electronics. The diaphragm absorbs multiple reflections of sound coming from the patient’s body. These waves then bounce or reflect off of the inside walls of the stethoscope tubing.

Sound waves bounce around inside the tubing and up the binaurals until they reach the eartips. These multiple reflections of sound happening inside the stethoscope are what amplify sounds that would be otherwise faint to the “naked ear.”

Electronic & Digital Stethoscopes

Electronic or digital stethoscopes, on the other hand, amplify sound with the assistance of electronics. They work in a similar way to traditional acoustic stethoscopes but have additional devices that amplify sound waves. Electronic stethoscopes convert sound waves into electronic signals. These electronic signals then undergo processing to improve sound quality for the user.

Electronic stethoscopes allow for sounds to be digitized and encoded. Users can then listen to these sounds on other devices like headphones and even make audio recordings. Electronic stethoscopes use different methods of digitizing and processing sounds, so sound quality varies from manufacturer to manufacturer.

Because sound waves go through processing in an electronic stethoscope, they will often have a different and distinctly electronic character compared to sounds heard from an acoustic stethoscope. Performing auscultation with an electronic stethoscope definitely has a learning curve. You will have to train yourself to know the sounds of the particular electronic model that you are using.

Noise Reduction

Just like sound amplification, noise reduction in a stethoscope takes place with or without electronic assistance. During auscultation, ambient noise can filter in from the air or the environment, as well as from the patient’s body itself. Some hearing-impaired medical professionals also have to work in noisy environments, which makes things that much harder.

Clear & Accurate Sound In Any Situation

Veterinarians can have many loud animals gathered in their clinics at one time. Physicians in the military will often be surrounded by loud noises at all hours.A stethoscope with noise-reducing properties will help deliver clear and accurate sound to the ears in any situation.

A traditional acoustic stethoscope might not look like it has noise reduction capabilities, but this is certainly not the case. A factor that’s often overlooked is the material of the chestpiece or head. Most stethoscopes come with metal heads, but some stethoscopes have acrylic heads instead. Acrylic heads are much better than metal heads at blocking out ambient noise.

Why is this?

Because metal is excellent at transmitting vibrations, while plastic isn’t nearly as good at doing so.

Stethoscope Eartubes: Metal vs Plastic/Acrylic

Remember what we mentioned earlier about sound moving in waves? Metal is an elastic material, which is why sound waves vibrate and move through metal with such ease. Eartubes are made of metal precisely because sound waves move through them so well. Plastic or acrylic, on the other hand, is poor at transmitting vibrations.

External noise will have to pass through a material that isn’t conducive to the movement of sound waves. It’s a testament to the noise-reducing quality of acrylic that it’s even used as a soundproofing material in homes and structures. That’s how acrylic stethoscope heads reduce ambient noise so well.

Electronic Stethoscopes & Noise Isolation

Electronic stethoscopes, on the other hand, reduce noise through technology. When sound waves are processed by the stethoscope’s circuitry, this circuitry generates waves to cancel out the ambient noise picked up by the chestpiece. As with sound amplification, the efficacy of noise reduction will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Different brands and models will have varying circuitry and methods of canceling out noise. With all that said, even if you are using an electric stethoscope, it would still be best to try and minimize environmental sounds.


What Stethoscopes Do We Offer For Hearing-Impaired Medical Professionals?

Among our stethoscopes, there are two in particular that we recommend for those with hearing issues:The Ultrascope Single Stethoscope, and the Ultrascope Classic Stethoscope.Let’s look at what each model brings to the table.

Ultrascope Single Stethoscope

The Ultrascope Single Stethoscope is a pressure-sensitive acoustic stethoscope with a single-sided acrylic head; it has an adjustable or tunable diaphragm that enables the user to detect various frequencies by changing the pressure on the head, and it also has an acrylic head that is excellent at reducing ambient noise.

The Single Stethoscope is the flagship Ultrascope model, is favored by all kinds of medical professionals, and can be used on both human and animal patients.

How To Use Our Single-Sided Stethoscopes

To use our single-sided stethoscopes, hold the head of the stethoscope between your thumb and middle finger, then apply pressure using your index finger. The more pressure you apply, the higher the frequencies detected by the chestpiece.

  • The lightest pressure will pick up heart sounds.
  • Moderate pressure will give you the ideal setting when you’re taking someone’s blood pressure.
  • Firmer pressure will detect lung sounds, since those are among the higher frequencies.

Be careful not to apply too much pressure, though. You can end up blocking all sound and not hearing anything instead.

Sometimes, you will have to perform auscultation in particularly loud environments. If you need more noise reduction, you can press down on the stethoscope head with your palm. Remember not to overdo it so that the chestpiece can still pick up sounds.

Ultrascope Classic Stethoscope

The Ultrascope Classic Stethoscopehas one noticeable difference from the Single Stethoscope: it has two tubes emanating from its acrylic head.

Why is having two tubes significant?

They deliver sound to the ears in a different way compared to every other stethoscope in the Ultrascope range. Each tube of the Classic Stethoscope channels sound to the left and right ear separately. The Single Stethoscope, on the other hand, only uses one tube to deliver sound to both ears.

The Classic Stethoscope is also a pressure-sensitive acoustic stethoscope with a single-sided acrylic chestpiece. It has the same build quality and construction as the Single Stethoscope, as you can expect from all Ultrascope stethoscopes.

The acrylic head also does a great job of reducing external noise. It is operated in the same manner we described for the Single Stethoscope above, and like the Single Stethoscope, it can also be used on both human and animal patients.


Single Stethoscope Versus Classic Stethoscope: Which Should You Go For?

Here are some things to consider before you choose one of our stethoscope models:

  • Is this your first Ultrascope stethoscope?
  • Have you owned or do you currently own an Ultrascope stethoscope?
  • What is your level of hearing loss?
  • Is your hearing impairment even in both ears or more pronounced in one?
  • Are you sensitive to ambient noise and different sounds?

Best Stethoscope For Hearing Impaired Medical Professionals

We recommend that you try the Ultrascope Single Stethoscope first.

Many of our users find that the Single Stethoscope’s construction and features are already very effective for them. If your hearing loss is pretty even in both ears, the Single Stethoscope may be enough to suit your needs.

If the Single Stethoscope doesn’t work for you, then you can try the Ultrascope Classic Stethoscope.

If you were a Single Stethoscope user but find that it doesn’t sound the same anymore, you can try the Classic Stethoscope and see if that’ll be a better fit. If you have high or low-frequency hearing loss in either ear, the Classic Stethoscope may be a better option since it delivers sound to each ear through individual channels.

Recall what we mentioned earlier about how sound waves travel through tubing. Having two separate tubes can make a huge difference in your listening experience. Each ear is targeted separately and gets a direct “line” from the stethoscope head. Sound waves travel through their own tubes unimpeded. Both of your ears then get clear and distinct sound during auscultation.

Note that the two tubes of the Classic Stethoscope do rub together, and this produces a sound that some users find irritating. This can be especially annoying for those whose hearing impairment is only minimal. If this is the case, the Single Stethoscope is the way to go for you.

Can Ultrascope Stethoscopes Be Used With Hearing Aids?

If you use in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids, you will have to take them out before using our stethoscopes. Our stethoscopes come with traditional eartips that must be inserted into the ear canal to work. Most types of hearing aids are unfortunately incompatible with traditional stethoscope design.

CIC Hearing Aids

If you use a completely-in-canal (CIC) hearing aid, you might be able to use our stethoscopes together with your hearing aid. However, some people find the pressure of the stethoscope pressing against the hearing aid quite uncomfortable. We recommend removing your hearing aid before using one of our stethoscopes.

A good acoustic seal is important for noise reduction. The acoustic seal is directly influenced by eartip placement and binaural alignment. Having a hearing aid in would affect how your stethoscope headset fits and compromise the acoustic seal.

Using A Stethoscope With A Hearing Aid

While your hearing aid would generally help you hear better, there would be a lot more ambient noise filtering in through your stethoscope. This is why it’s best to use our stethoscopes without a hearing aid.

Although taking out your hearing aid might not be the most convenient solution, it’s still considerably less fussy than having to “pair” your hearing aid and a stethoscope together. Interfacing a stethoscope and hearing aid can be a time-consuming and disheartening process.

To do this successfully, you will most likely need the services of an audiologist. Interfacing can have mixed results and will require a good deal of trial and error. In addition, it’s important to note that hearing aids aren’t usually programmed to amplify very low frequencies.

These low frequencies are crucial for being able to hear heart and breath sounds. Your hearing aid may need customization or modification to be able to amplify these low frequencies.


Who Are Our Stethoscopes For?

If your hearing impairment isn’t severe and you just need a stethoscope with a little boost, our products can be a valuable and indispensable tool for you, a traditional acoustic stethoscope can still be very beneficial for those with hearing issues.

Our users appreciate being able to use a traditional stethoscope and not having to shell out on pricier electronic models. There’s nothing quite like the sound that you get from an acoustic stethoscope. A traditional acoustic stethoscope will always give you the sound that’s closest to the real acoustics inside the body.

 

Mild to Moderate Hearing Loss

If you have only mild or moderate hearing loss, we strongly suggest that you give our stethoscopes a try. A traditional acoustic stethoscope is much lighter than an electronic stethoscope, which has additional parts and electronics that make them harder to carry around all day. You might even have to bring around additional accessories needed for an electronic stethoscope.

A traditional acoustic stethoscope doesn’t require batteries or any kind of power source. An electronic stethoscope, on the other hand, won’t function without power. You don’t want to be caught without the equipment you need when you need it most.

An electronic stethoscope can be very expensive, and you might find that the added functionality isn’t worth the expense or isn’t necessary for your hearing impairment. Having electronic components that can break can add to your expenses.

Lastly, keep in mind that other electronic devices may interfere with an electronic stethoscope. There’s nothing to lose by trying a traditional acoustic stethoscope before investing in something else.

 

If Your Hearing Aid Is Required 24/7

If wearing your hearing aid at all times is non-negotiable, our stethoscopes may not be the optimal solution for you. We understand that all users have different needs and levels of support required.

If our stethoscopes aren’t the ideal choice for your level of hearing loss, there are still options for you out there!

Stethoscope Care: The Best Practices

Your stethoscope goes through so much daily, so keeping it in tip-top condition is essential to prolonging its lifespan and usability. Here are some steps for basic stethoscope maintenance.

Wipe down the head, eartips, diaphragm, and retaining ring of your Ultrascope with an alcohol wipe. These are the parts that should be consistently cleaned for hygiene and disease prevention purposes. Make sure that you don’t accidentally soak any part of your stethoscope in liquid. An alcohol wipe is ideal because it’ll disinfect your stethoscope and evaporate into the air faster than plain water.

You can wipe down other parts of your stethoscope using a dampened cloth with antibacterial soap. Rinse the soap off using a separate damp cloth. Again, take care that the stethoscope doesn’t get soaked and dries completely.

If you want to restore some of the shine to your tubing, you can spray it with a non-solvent or non-petroleum distillate polish. Other materials might harm the tubing, so we don’t recommend using something stronger than that.

Lastly, be sure to regularly check and tighten your stethoscope’s parts. Regular use will loosen the eartips, diaphragm, and retaining ring. If your diaphragm doesn’t perform like it used to, it might just be loose. All you have to do is turn the retaining ring clockwise. If the retaining ring won’t tighten or stay in place, it might be due for a replacement.


Best Stethoscopes For Hearing Impaired Medical Professionals: The Obvious Choice

The stethoscope is one of the most defining pieces of equipment for a medical professional. Auscultation seems so simple, but it can reveal so much of what happens in patients’ bodies.

With the right stethoscope, you won’t have to worry about your ability to assess and diagnose your patients even if your hearing is impaired. You can come to your patients with confidence, and your patients will also have faith in your abilities.

Hearing impairment can be managed with a strategic combination of solutions to make your personal and professional life as easy as possible. We hope that an Ultrascope stethoscope will be one of those solutions. Scoop up one of our scopes soon!

Keep up with Ultrascope.