Doctors and stethoscopes go hand in hand. It’s hard to picture doctors in their white lab coats, doing their rounds, without their stethoscopes. When we think about medical professionals, we almost always imagine them with their stethoscopes. That’s probably not surprising considering the symbolic nature the stethoscope has.
Unlike tools such as thermometers
and blood pressure monitors
, which people sometimes associate with nurses or pharmacies and times when there is a problem (everyone knows those little blood pressure booths!), a stethoscope is something many expect to see, regardless of the medical situation when you go to the doctor - even if it is just for a routine physical.
When you’re sitting in the doctor’s office for your yearly physical, you know what the usual drill is: sit on the table and wait for the doctor to come to your room. When he or she does finally come, what do they do? They ask a few questions and then pull out their stethoscope to listen to your lungs and heart! They might also want to get record your blood pressure for the best diagnosis. Although the stethoscope may not seem like a very sophisticated tool, it’s actually super useful in helping doctors hear abnormalities in your lungs, chest, and heart.
If you have pneumonia or issues with asthma, the stethoscope enables your doctor to hear any wheezing. If you have broken ribs, your doctor will be able to hear them crackling as you breathe in and out. Although an x-ray will likely follow for those battered ribs, the stethoscope helps your doctor figure out what type of imaging to order (which means less time spent on expensive imaging!). When your doctor is equipped with a well-working stethoscope, they’re better able to assist you.
But there are many people, besides medical professionals, who may want to be able to monitor their heart rate. For this, there are two options for home users, depending upon your needs: wearable heart rate monitors
and fitness trackers if you are looking to watch your heart rate over time, or getting your own stethoscope if you want to know your heart rate at a specific point in time.
This is guide was written to help you as you attempt to find a suitable stethoscope. We’ll look at price, important features and how these features affect a stethoscope’s overall quality.
Purchasing a stethoscope must be a thoroughly considered act because it’s a tool that you’ll use throughout your career. In our research, we found stethoscopes that were as low as $25, but others that went up to $220. Depending on where you are in your career and how often you use your stethoscope, you may want to buy a more expensive one. However, if you’re just a regular person who wants to have a stethoscope for their own medical reasons, like listening to a heart murmur or for an arrhythmia, a cheaper one will suit your needs just fine.
The price of a stethoscope is affected by various factors, like the type, the brand, and the age group it’s meant for (for example, stethoscopes for pediatrics usually have a kid-friendly design). As you shop around, we recommend avoiding cheap stethoscopes, mainly because you won’t be able to hear as well. If you’re looking for a stethoscope that’ll enable you to hear something specific, like your child’s lungs, you’ll want something that’s not going to have a lot of interference. Otherwise, you may find yourself worried over something that’s not even there (and we’ll all done that before!).
You’ll be able to choose the most suitable stethoscope for your needs once you’ve evaluated its features. While all stethoscopes perform the same general task, each is designed in a different way, which will determine how it performs. When you’re comparing different brands, try to look at the following features:
- Sound Quality
- Chest piece
- Color and Design Pattern
- Size and Dimensions
It’s best to choose a few stethoscopes you like, and then narrow down those choices by evaluating them with these features in mind. If you aren’t a medical professional and don’t understand what some of these features are or how they’ll affect the stethoscope’s performance, that’s okay! We’ve taken the liberty of expanding on them below.
Construction and Design
Different medical practitioners have different needs and methods, so the type of stethoscope is pretty essential. It can be single head, dual head or electronic, and each type will have a specific function it performs. For example, a single head stethoscope is your standard one that lets you hear what’s happening in the chest and back. But a dual head stethoscope will allow you to hear lower frequency sounds. Depending on what you’re trying to hear, a stethoscope that can pick up lower frequencies may be more useful to you.
Because the stethoscope’s primary function is to hear sound, you’ll want to make sure the one you buy has good sound quality. Its ability to receive and transmit sound, and to create suitable acoustics are important qualities to look for. Similarly, if you know you work in a noisy environment, you may want to go for a stethoscope that can isolate the noise you want to hear.
The chest piece—also called the diaphragm—is the little silvery part at the end of the stethoscope that the doctor places against your body. Any sound transmitted through the diaphragm goes through the stethoscope’s tubing. To ensure you get the best acoustics, look for ones that have good tubing as well as the size diaphragm you need.
Performance and Ease of Use
The color and design of a stethoscope can go a long way in determining how a doctor appears to their patients. If you work in pediatrics or know you’ll be rounding in the pediatric ward, having a kid-friendly stethoscope—one with animals on it, for example—is a great idea. However, if you’re working in hospice or at the VA, a more professional-looking stethoscope will probably be better. That being said, kid-friendly ones will likely coax a few smiles from all your patients, so having it as an option to wear isn’t a bad idea.
Generally speaking, you can find stethoscopes in lots of colors and designs, but if you can’t find one you really like—or if you have to have a plain silver one—try to look for stethoscope covers. They usually come in a huge variety of patterns and colors, and because they’re interchangeable, you can make your stethoscope as kid- or adult-friendly as you’d like!
Above all, make sure your stethoscope is comfortable for you to use. If you’re a larger person, you may want one that’s wider or longer so you don’t have to lean in so close to patients. If you’re petite, a smaller stethoscope may be a good way to go. Either way, your stethoscope should be tight enough to fit without falling off, but not so tight that it’s choking you.
Because comfort is king, consider the eartips as well. Although you’re only listening to your stethoscope in short intervals, you’re constantly using it throughout the day. It’s also the final piece that sound hits before it goes into your ears. Make sure the eartips fit snug enough that background noise won’t interfere much with what you’re trying to hear, but make sure they aren’t so tight that your ears become sore.
Amateur medics have different needs from pros. Young doctors may have few preferences compared to older ones when it comes to equipment. There are always slight preferences from one person to another. Therefore, take a look at the following stethoscopes and decide which would be your preferred choice. Please note that any stethoscope you pick from our selection below is worth every cent you spend.
Now that you have read these carefully researched reviews, we hope that you are satisfied with the information provided and are ready to buy the right stethoscope for your current needs. Get your preferred model at Amazon right away.