Best Stethoscope for Hard of Hearing | Amplified Stethoscope

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For the longest time, Trevor wanted to be a nurse in a rewarding profession he’d dreamed about since he was a kid. But he has a test to complete in his upcoming vital session in a couple of weeks. He will need to complete an assessment of listening to sounds from the heart to assess a patient’s heart rate.

After using the nursing school’s stethoscope, Trevor doubts his abilities now and feels like his hearing loss is a disability that could hold him back from passing the exam. Things are feeling super stressful and tiring just thinking about the exam for him. Finally, he realizes that his dream and this upcoming exam are in the way of achieving his dream. 

Registered nurses, veterinary technicians, emergency medical technicians, doctors, and medical students like Trevor can work in the health field. Their superpower and talent are uniquely specific and needed in the healthcare sector. In addition, they are observant of things and bring an added and heightened sense when things are not quite right. Therefore, hearing loss shouldn’t stop people from entering the medical field, especially when technologies such as a custom stethoscope break down the hearing barrier to providing medical care.

How to hear better with a stethoscope

It’s an assumption made by non-medical professionals or people interested in the medical field that the medical profession is not suitable because people with hearing loss when so many technologies and medical devices require hearing capabilities to monitor and look after patients. 

However, some stethoscopes provide amplification and visual information suitable for people with varying hearing loss. Equally important, more amplification is needed if you have severe hearing loss. Hence, someone with both mild hearing loss who doesn’t wear hearing aids and someone who has severe hearing loss wouldn’t be able to benefit from the same device, depending on their amplification needs. 

Giving that amplification is a necessary start to using a stethoscope. There are two ways to listen with a stethoscope. Simply, one involves removing the hearing aids, and the other keeps them on.

Removing your hearing aids

First, you can remove your hearing aids to use an amplified stethoscope by inserting them directly into your ear. The stethoscope has significant amplification for someone with mild hearing loss and the ability to hear low-frequency sounds. Notably, the clarity and loudness of the stethoscope are equivalent to those wearing hearing aids. Some medical professionals give their stethoscopes to help hard-of-hearing patients hear them. 

Wearing your hearing aids

If you are forced to keep up with infection control policies by having contactless protocols, you might want to keep your hands from touching your hearing devices. Hearing aids provide support to sounds under a specific frequency range. For example, the frequencies needed for a stethoscope are in the lower frequency range, typically 20-650 Hz. Unfortunately, wearing your hearing aids and cochlear implants may not allow you to hear the low-frequency range. On the other hand, unless you have hearing aids and a cochlear implant adjusted, you’ll get all the sounds you need for work. 

Behind-the-ear hearing aids

Removing your hearing aids to use your stethoscope will be too cumbersome and, perhaps, not hygiene friendly if you are touching your hearing aids and placing them down in an area that requires strict hygiene and practices. In that case, you can keep your hearing aids by finding a way to connect your hearing aids to the stethoscope or by making a vent or hole into your hearing aid earmold. This practice is known as the Applebaum method. In detail, it will allow you to use a stethoscope without removing your hearing aids. You can use the earpiece over the vent, which is suitable for people who can hear low frequencies.

Direct Audio Input, T-coil, Bluetooth or Headphones

Otherwise, you might want to keep your earmolds as is and use an amplified stethoscope to pair with your hearing aids or cochlear implant. Consequently, you can connect your device with your hearing device using a direct audio input boot available on a hearing aid. You can use the t-coil switch on your hearing aid with a hearing loop device attached to your stethoscope. Or you may pair your hearing aid Bluetooth with a Bluetooth transmitter, a device that enables Bluetooth between your hearing aid and the stethoscope. Remember, most Bluetooth connections need an adapter because of the mechanics of making direct connections. And for most stethoscopes, you will need an adapter to provide the connection between the stethoscope and the hearing aids or cochlear implants.

For In-the-canal or completely-in-canal hearing aid wearer

You can swap the earpiece that attaches to the stethoscope for stethomate tips to use comfortably with your in-the-canal hearing aids. These earpieces can fit on some stethoscopes, like Littleman.

Testing Stethoscope

If you are worried about buying the wrong stethoscope online and spending a lot upfront, you can try before committing. Firstly, the Association of Medical Professionals with Hearing Losses hosts an in-person event that allows one to try various devices to see which one is worth purchasing. Lastly, some of the companies will also give you a trial period.

What is a good stethoscope for the hard of hearing?

We found five stethoscopes on the market that are favourites and widely used by people with hearing loss. As part of the product review, we compiled information and resources from people with hearing loss on their experience with the product to help you decide which is a better fit.

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ThinkLabs stethoscope device
Image credit: thinklabs.com

ThinkLabs

ThinkLabs is one of the higher-priced stethoscopes on the market but one that many people with hearing loss enjoy. Especially important, the functionality of this device can work with any audio-related device. Additionally, this stethoscope has the most amplification out of all the available devices.

Key Features:

  • Connects to your Compilot (Phonak), UNI-DEX, Com-dex (Widex), MultiMic (Resound), audio headphones, any Bluetooth transmitter/adapter or any streamer (neck loop) for hearing aids or cochlear implant
  • Auto-shutoff delay to save power
  • Pre-set “programs” to quickly switch from assessing lung to heart sounds

Likes

  • Easy to use for repeat usage after initial setup
  • Good sound quality
  • No need to remove hearing aids

Dislikes

  • It’s not a wireless Bluetooth-enabled device. You need an audio streamer or Bluetooth transmitter to bring the sound to your hearing aids.
  • Works only with a 3.5mm input jack for those who wear Oticon Pro or Siemens. You’ll need to purchase an adapter to convert your streamers from a 2.5mm input jack to a 3.5mm input jack.
  • It doesn’t look like a traditional stethoscope.
  • It picks up a lot of other noises when you move it around.
  • With T-coil, you could get some interference from other medical equipment or pacemaker-like devices, for example, Vagus Nerve Stimulator (VNS) Implants.

Littmann

Littmann is a popular brand in the nursing community. It offers a great entry-level device for the nursing profession or students in the health field seeking a stethoscope for general use. Moreover, it will help those who want to study the visual waveform and the actual sound. With this stethoscope, you can hear anything from faint murmurs to lung, heart and abdominal sounds.

Key Feature

  • Sleek design
  • Noise-cancelling feature
  • It comes with an app to visually display the heart rate
  • Can pair with the eko core device
  • Rechargeable battery

Likes

  • It works well for BTE with the receiver in the ear with adjustable earplugs to use soft, flexible ear adapters that can fit comfortably.
  • The sound quality is phenomenal, and the volume control is great.
  • It got the look of a traditional stethoscope.
  • Suitable for mild to moderate hearing loss
  • It amplifies the heart and lung sound very effectively.
  • It works well for people who can’t hear lower tones.

Dislikes

  • If you have full earmolds, you will need to remove hearing aids, which may not give you enough amplification.
  • Cochlear implant wearers complained it wouldn’t work for them.
  • Captures too many background noises
  • It would only work well with a good-quality headset. 
  • To use the app, you will need to set up an account, pay a monthly subscription starting at $50/month for advanced features, and have an internet connection and app ready to use.
  • Can’t capture data from the app easily for later use or records
  • The pediatric-sized diaphragm may not work for adults.
  • It may be a bit heavy to wear around the neck.
Eko duo stethoscope device
Image credit: ekohealth.com

EKO Duo

This attachment amplifies the sounds using other stethoscope brands like Littmann (see above). The device can perform any physical examination for heart, lung, and bowel sounds. This company actively tests hearing aid brands and users for better sound quality.

Key Features:

  • It comes with an app due to its Bluetooth feature. You can see the visual information of a heartbeat on the screen.
  • Operates alone or can pair with another stethoscope
  • Smart detection system
  • Record visualization of heart sound for sharing
  • Can wirelessly listen over the Bluetooth device of your choice.

Likes

  • It works well with a cochlear implant.
  • It can capture records and share them with colleagues.
  • It has a good range using the Bluetooth feature.
  • It’s a reliable device with no need to remove your hearing aids.
  • It performs well for cardiac assessment.
  • It gives pretty accurate digital readings.

Dislikes

  • It needs a stethoscope to function and can be an additional expense.
  • It may not attach to all stethoscopes.
  • It will require the app open to get it started.
  • It doesn’t look like a traditional stethoscope
Cardionic stethoscope device
Image credit: cardionics.com

Cardionics E-scope

This stethoscope allows you to connect using its 3.5mm jack to your t-coil, headset and other audio devices that you can connect to the jack. You’ll be ready to hear any sounds from lung to bowel using your hearing aids or cochlear implants.

Key Features

  • Connects directly to the cochlear implant using a patch cord or t-coil
  • Can toggle between lung and heart sounds by pressing a button
  • Assess lung, heart and abdominal sounds
  • Uses a DAI cable or a headphones

Likes

  • It works well with cochlear implants.
  • It captures the precise sounds of the heart and lungs.
  • It is comfortable to wear.
  • It provides a broader volume range.
  • It offers clear and good-quality sounds.

Dislikes

  • There’s no Bluetooth or wireless capability.
  • The little earpieces in the shape of hooks behind the ears can get tangled with your face mask.
  • It’s sensitive to noise interference and background noises unless you wear over-the-ear headphones.
  • The headphones or the jack area get easily broken from wear and tear.
  • It takes a tad bit of time to fine-tune.
  • It’s longer than the standard devices and a bit heavy.
Stethee stethoscope device
Image credit: m3dicine.com

Stethee

Visualize the sound using an AI-powered device to listen to the heart and lungs of your patients. Stream sound through to your smartphone (android and iPhone are both supported) and pair your hearing aid and cochlear implants to your mobile phone.

Key Features:

  • Another device specific for the vet
  • AI can provide cardiac and respiratory events detection
  • Bluetooth enabled
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Noise cancellation
  • Use with a 3.5 mm AUX adaptor for headphones or audio cable

Likes

  • It can be set up with no cables using a Bluetooth streamer with Compilot.
  • It analyses organs within 20 seconds.
  • It’s lightweight.
  • It has the option of no listening required.

Dislikes

  • You’ll need permission to use your phone in the workplace.
  • It’s a little tricky to get the whole connection thing together.
  • You do need the app and phone to get started.

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