How to Wear a Stethoscope? The Only Guide You Need

Wearing a stethoscope seems to be a pretty easy thing, but most people do not know the correct way of wearing it. As a result, they put the earpieces in their ears in the wrong way and hurt themselves. Considering this, do you know how to wear a stethoscope properly?

To wear the stethoscope correctly, hold it up and look at the ear tips. The binaural should be pointing forward, away from you. Then adjust the tension by pulling away from the binaural. Wear the stethoscope, and keep adjusting the binaural until the ear tips fit properly.

However, this is easier said than done. In this article, we will discuss the right way of wearing a stethoscope with a step-by-step guide. Also, we will share what to do when the device is not in use besides discussing some useful tips.

Even if you are not in the medical field but want to look after a sick person, this information can benefit you. 

How To Wear A Stethoscope?

Step 1: Properly insert the earpieces:

It is essential to make sure that your ear tips are facing forward. Hold them and adjust the position of the ear tips by moving them forward. A stethoscope binaural has an angled shape, quite similar to your ear canals. 

The aim is to provide you with maximum sound transmission while allowing you to hear comfortably. If it is not adjusted correctly, you will not hear anything, and you will hurt your ears.

Step 2: Choosing the right ear tip size:

The earpieces come in 3 different small and large sizes. For optimal sound quality, pick any one size which fits your ears properly. 

Step 3: Tighten the ear tips:

As soon as the ear tubes are assembled, firmly attach the small end of the ear tip. To eliminate ambient noise, make sure the earpieces are well sealed. You may be able to tilt some stethoscope earpieces forward to ensure that they fit better.

Step 4: Adjust the ear tubes tension:

By adjusting the ear tubes, you can achieve a snug and comfortable fit. Pulling the ear tubes apart reduces tension in the ear. 

When you cross the ear tubes, you will increase pressure by gently pinching them together. As you repeat this, you will acquire the desired tension. 

Steps to Consider Before Using a Stethoscope:

Before using the stethoscope, one should keep a few things in mind:

Select a quiet location:

In order to listen to the sounds of the stethoscope, it is crucial to be in a quiet environment. If you are using it at your home, choose a quiet location so that background noises will not interfere with the body sounds.

Prepare and position your patient:

You have to position your patient while listening to the body sounds. For example, to examine the heart, ask the patient to lie down straight with his face upward. To listen to the lungs, your patient needs to sit up straight. 

Select any one side of the stethoscope to use:

Before evaluating your patient, you may decide whether to use a diaphragm or bell. If you have to listen to the high-frequency sounds, use the flat side of the stethoscope. To listen to low-pitched sounds, you may use the bell side of your stethoscope. 

Place the tool to the patient’s bare skin:

If you are using a stethoscope to listen to the sound, ask the patient to expose his part of the skin and place the chest piece on it. For better and clearer sounds, doctors should place the tool directly on the skin. 

Difference between Diaphragm and Bell:

A diaphragm is the flattened portion of the chest piece. In general, it is called a disk. It is possible to hear a murmur and a sound through the diaphragm. In other words, the diaphragm detects high- and medium-frequency sounds. 

While the bell is the minor round part of the chest piece, many people check their blood pressure and bowel movements. Therefore, when listening to low-pitched sounds, you should use a bell.

Things to Consider While Wearing a Littmann Stethoscope:

Insert the earpieces forward:

When you are inserting the stethoscope ear tips into your ears, they should point forward. Littmann stethoscopes come with ear tips of small and large size and hard and soft for effective sealing and comfortable fit.

Adjust tension for comfortable fit:

To adjust the headset tension, hold both ear tubes and either pull them apart or, for reducing pressure, squeeze them together to your preferences.

Two types of Littmann chest pieces:

Littmann chest pieces come in two types. Single-sided and double-sided. You can listen to the low-frequency sounds from the small side of the double-sided chest piece, while you can hear the high-frequency sounds from the large side.

Tunable technology:

Both double-sided and single-sided chest pieces typically feature a tunable diaphragm. Thus, it is possible to adjust the sound volume based on the need to hear simply by changing the pressure level.

How to Carry a Stethoscope When Not in Use?

Hanging your stethoscope on your neck is not the only way to carry your tool, but there is something more to focus on to keep your stethoscope safe and in good condition. 

Place it in your lab coat:

However, hanging your stethoscope on your neck is not a good idea. It is a common mistake that even doctors make. The best way to carry your tool is to keep it in your coat pocket or hang it there. 

Do not hang it on bare skin:

In simple words, there must be cloth on your skin when you hang it, and it is not in use. Our skin contains so much oil that it is harmful to the tubing of a stethoscope. It damages the tubing.

Do not bend or fold the tube:

Moreover, avoid folding or bending the tube, as it is thin and made of plastic to crack easily. Hanging it on the hanger or keeping it in your lab coat is a good option. 

How to Use the Chest Piece Correctly? 

3 Different types:

By choosing the correct chest piece, one will gain a broader viewpoint and the ability to make a decision. A chest piece can be of different types like double-headed, single-headed, or triple-headed, depending on the flagship.

Rotating the indicator to choose one side:

When you have a dual-head chest piece, choose one side with an indicator dot, as most stethoscopes do. This indicator will show whether the bell or diaphragm is active. 

Applying gentle force:

To use the former, one has to apply gentle force with the tip of your index finger for a while until one hears the desired sound from the former.

Adjusting your energy by touching:

By using the AFD technology in your stethoscope, you can adjust your energy and pressure in accordance with the frequency you will be hearing.

Hence, the tunable technology is easier to use by adjusting the chest piece pressure to detect low or high-frequency sounds.

Final words:

Wearing a stethoscope is easy, but most people do not know the right way to wear it. To hear the sound correctly, ensure you are wearing the ear tips facing forward, and they fit perfectly with the right size of earpieces. 

Photo of author

Muhammad Bilal Qayyum

MBBS from Taishan Medical University and currently working in Bahawal Victoria Hospital. The blog is a great resource for both novices and experienced users when it comes to stethoscopes. As I studied and practiced, I evaluated various models on the market, which led me to become an expert in stethoscopes.

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