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Hear it all — Know how stethoscopes work and how to use them!

Marc Kaplan

Whether you're a medical student, a soon-to-be nurse, or simply a parent who wants to be able to monitor their child's health more closely at home, learning how a stethoscope works and how you can better use them is essential. Stethoscopes can make a huge difference in being able to diagnose and monitor a patient's health. Stethoscopes are widely used both in the medical field and at home, and there are many reasons for this. Stethoscopes provide a small, easy-to-use way to monitor someone's heart and lungs. Because of its size, a Littmann stethoscope is able to be easily transported, so you can utilize its benefits at any time. Did you know a modern day stethoscope was perfected in the 1960’s by
David Littmann?


How does a stethoscope work?

Are you wondering, "How does a stethoscope work?" Although most adults have encountered a recognized stethoscope at some point, not everyone understands exactly how they function. This is important to learn because a Littmann stethoscope offers a variety of benefits and diagnostic capabilities.

When you're first learning how to use a stethoscope chest piece and diaphragm, make sure you understand that sometimes, discovering the right use of a stethoscope chest takes time. If you've never used a Littmann stethoscope or a stethoscope chest piece before, be patient with yourself and with the people around you. The best scenario is a calming environment which enables a more accurate reading. Eventually, you'll find that a stethoscope is simple and easy to use, but when you're first working on developing your stethoscope chest piece skills, you may struggle.

Simply put, a Littmann cardiology stethoscope has a small, round metal piece covered by a piece of plastic. The metal piece is called the stethoscope chest piece. The plastic is called the diaphragm. When you place the Littmann cardiology stethoscope on someone's chest, the sound will cause the diaphragm to vibrate. This sound travels through the metal tubes of the Littmann cardiology stethoscope and to the user's ears. So how does a stethoscope work? In laymen’s terms, it works by vibrating sound to the physician's ears and amplifying that sound.

It's important to understand that whether you're using your Littmann cardiology stethoscopes to monitor a patient's health, you may need to listen in several different spaces. Never simply place the Littman cardiology stethoscope on a patient and go by the first reading. You should make sure you listen thoroughly and carefully before finalizing a diagnosis. Now you have an answer to your question, "How does a stethoscope work?" But, it's still important, however, that you practice using stethoscopes regularly in order to fully understand exactly how stethoscopes work.


Who should use a recognized stethoscope?

A recognized stethoscope offers a variety of benefits to medical professionals and patients alike. A Littmann stethoscope can be used in a hospital, clinic, or home care setting. One of the most fantastic benefits of selecting a Littmann stethoscope to use is that they are cost-efficient and small, so they're simple to move around. Medical equipment can be bulky and expensive, so you can't typically use it outside of a hospital. A Littmann stethoscope is different. With a Littmann stethoscope, you can treat and monitor a patient no matter where they are.

A Littmann stethoscope has several primary uses:

  • Diagnosing problems in the abdomen
  • Understanding discomfort in the lungs
  • Listening to the heart beating

A Littmann stethoscope is just one tool that can be used to diagnose medical problems. While most patients understand that stethoscopes can be used to check their heart, not everyone understands exactly what this means. It's important for a patient's heart to be monitored regularly. A Littmann cardiology stethoscope can help a physician determine whether someone has a normal heartbeat or whether there might be some irregularities present. If a patient has been complaining of chest pain or discomfort, monitoring their heartbeat with a recognized stethoscope is essential.

A recognized stethoscope can also be used to diagnose and monitor someone's lung condition. Did you know that many patients experience problems with their breathing and lungs? This is especially common for asthmatics during allergy season, since things like ragweed and pollen can irritate the lungs of a patient who has asthma or allergies. When a patient has been struggling to breathe, the caregiver needs to determine the cause of the breathing difficulty. The right stethoscope can help with this. The physician or nurse practitioner can simply listen to the patient's lungs and determine whether further testing is needed.

Another benefit of utilizing stethoscopes is that it's simpler to diagnose abdominal problems. While not all problems can be diagnosed with a simple stethoscope, understand that some minor abdominal issues can be diagnosed and monitored this way. In the same way a physician would listen to a patient's heart or lungs, he or she can listen to a patient's bowels directly through the abdominal walls. If a problem is detected, the caregiver can order a series of x-rays to confirm the diagnosis for the abdominal discomfort or pain. He or she may also request lab work be performed.

As you can see, a stethoscope is for more than just checking a patient's heartbeat. This useful tool provides an effective way to monitor patients and their overall health. Because this is such a small tool, a stethoscope can be easily utilized in hospitals and clinics where funding is limited, ensuring patients receive the care and treatment they need in order to return to their normal, healthy lives. This is why you’ll typically see doctors wear a stethoscope around their neck while they are walking through hospitals or when you visit the doctors office.


How can I select the right model?

If you're thinking about getting a stethoscope for home or medical use, that's great. A stethoscope provides a plethora of fantastic diagnostic and monitoring uses for patients, caregivers, and physicians. Before you purchase a stethoscope, you'll need to consider your options and decide whether you want an electronic stethoscope or a classic stethoscope.

If you struggle to hear sounds, you may want to consider investing in an electronic stethoscope. These offer a variety of features that are beneficial to anyone who wants to hear sounds a bit more distinctly. You may also be able to record sounds with your electronic device, depending on the model you select.

If you're comfortable with a traditional stethoscope and your hearing is well, you may be fine sticking with a classic model. Even with traditional acoustic stethoscopes, you'll have some choices to make.

  • Do you want something colorful?
  • Do you want a lightweight model?
  • Do you want a turntable diaphragm?
  • Do you want something you can use with pediatric patients?

Answering these questions will help ensure you find the perfect model for you and your personal needs.

How can I care for my stethoscope?

When you find the right stethoscope, you make an investment in your career, your future, and the future of each patient you see and help. It's important that you take proper care of your medical tools, including your stethoscope, to ensure that it lasts as long as possible. Your stethoscope provides you with a chance to treat and diagnose your patients, and you want that diagnostic tool to be as fully functioning and fantastic as possible. To ensure this, you'll need to take proper care of your stethoscope. There are a few things to keep in mind when caring for your stethoscope.

First off, always protect your stethoscope. This means that you'll need to keep it away from extreme hot and cold temperatures, as this can damage your product. Additionally, make sure you keep your stethoscope away from solvents and oils you may encounter while working. Although your stethoscope may look waterproof, the truth is that immersing your stethoscope in liquid can cause irreversible damage to it.

Secondly, make sure you disinfect your stethoscope as needed. Use a 70% isopropyl alcohol solution to disinfect your model. This is especially important between patients and if you work in a hospital setting where you're using your stethoscope regularly. It's simple for germs to accumulate on something you carry around with you, so always ensure you're cleaning this regularly to protect yourself and your patients. Keep in mind, however, that you should never dip your stethoscope in water to clean it, nor should you use a sterilization process. Simply use alcohol to disinfect germs and you'll be fine.

Finally, consider cleaning the ear pieces on your stethoscope regularly. Did you know you can detach your earpieces for easier cleaning? This simplifies the process and enables you to wipe down your earpieces to remove wax or other buildup that may have accumulated during regular use of your stethoscope.

Remember that no matter what you're planning to use your stethoscope for, proper care and cleaning will ensure it lasts as long as possible and is safe and ready-to-use when you need it. Your stethoscope offers you a variety of ways to help and diagnose your patients, so make sure you always follow the proper guidelines for using your stethoscope.

On to you

What use cases do you see stethoscopes helping your everyday life? With the straightforward capabilities this tool provides, you’ll discover how useful it can be. Please let us know in the comments below if you have any questions about how a stethoscope works if your concerns were not answered in the article. We hope you found value in this post!

-Marc Kaplan

CEO, Save Rite Medical

Marc Kaplan is founder and CEO of Save Rite Medical — the leading provider of wholesale medical supplies. A salesman by day and educator by night, Marc enjoys providing valuable ways and alternatives to living a healthier lifestyle.


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