The stethoscope has been around for over a century, and has proven its worth time and time again. It's a must-have tool for all medical professionals, and can also serve its purpose for those who want to use it at home as well. Before using it, you'll first want to understand all that it entails, and how to use it correctly.
Understanding the Parts
You'll first want to understand each part that's included in your machine. There are five parts that each have their own job to do. It's important that you know how to use a stethoscope the proper way in order to get an accurate result. If you don't use it properly, then you might miss important symptoms from your pateints that could ultimately save someones life. This is especially true for elderly patients with heart conditions, or anyone with a family history of heart disease. To better understand the five parts that are included, we've explained each one in detail for you:
This the the part of your machine that allows you to insert it into your ears and listen to the sounds being produced by your chestpiece. It is made of a silicone material and can easily be replaced when needed. The ear buds are a bigger size in order to help you block out any external sounds that might otherwise distract you, or make listening to your pateint difficult. This an important feature of this and allows you to get an accurate diagnosis.
This is the "V" or "U" shaped part of the tubing on your machine located near your ear buds. It's also known as the acoustic tubing, and is connected to the straight longer tubing that connects to your chestpiece. This hollow tubing intertwines with the longer tubing to help produce better sound quality.
The tubing on the equipment is where the sound travels from your diaphragm or bell, all the way up to your ear buds. Without the tubing, it wouldn't be possible for the sound to travel. This also makes it convenient for you to wear it around your neck for when your hands are full and you need a safe place to put it. The tubing is made of a flexible material called PVC. This is the long part of the tube that connects to the diaphragm and bell, and is also known as the acoustic tube.
Diaphragm vs. Bell
You'll notice the round part where you listen to the heart, has two sides. The chestpiece has a flat side that's known as the diaphragm, and if you flip it over to the other side you'll notice a round part that sticks out—that is the bell. They both have a similar job to do, and that's to listen for any sounds that the heart or lungs produce. The job of the diaphragm and bell is to hear any sounds that would be concerning. This could be a wooshing sound that the heart might make if there's a heart murmur, or any other condition causing the heart to not function properly. It can also listen to the lungs to hear any wheezing, or any other sounds that would be concerning.
The diaphragm is able to help you listen to deeper, lower pitched sounds. Whereas the bell helps you to hear higher pitched noises. Depending on your patients needs and symptoms, you might feel that it's best to use one side or the other, and other times you might want to try using both sides. It's always best to be safe than sorry. Most doctors typically use the diaphragm side of the equipment, but the bell is equally just as important and serves its purpose as well.
How to Use it Properly?
This is important instrument that provides many different resources, and allows you to check for multiple things. Aside from being able to check on the heart and lungs, it's also able to check blood pressure and helps you to ensure that all vital signs are looking good. It's important that you properly use your apparatus in order to ensure that it's working the way that it should be. If it's not being used the correct way then this can lead to inaccurate blood pressure readings, or can also cause you to miss important sounds that might indicate a problem. Here are the correct steps that you should take to ensure that you're getting the best stethoscope use possible:
You'll want to be sure that your ear buds are secured on and are positioned in your ear properly. You will know that you've done this right if you can't hear any external sounds. If you can hear external sounds, then you might need to try twisting the ear buds while they're in your ear in order to create a better suction. If this doesn't work, try taking them out and trying again. It should completely cover the opening to your ear canal, in order to block out all sounds.
When checking the heart or lungs, make sure that you decide if you want to use the diaphragm side or bell first. It works best when you have your pateints relax and take a slow breath in and out. If there are any concerning sounds coming from the heart or the lungs, you'll be able to hear it better this way. The diaphragm is able to pick up low pitched sounds, while the bell is able to pick up higher pitched ones.
Always be sure to check your tubing for any cracks or damage. Just like with anything else, prolonged use can cause wear and tear after a while. If you're tubing is damaged and has any leaks, then it won't work as it should and you won't be able to hear as well. If this ever happens, make sure that you replace it or have the leak repaired. This can be done by using a patch to place over it temporarily until you can get it replaced.
Always double check everything at least once a day before your first use. When checking your pateints heart, lungs or blood pressure, it's important that you ensure everything is working on your apparatus properly. You've checked your ear buds to make sure they're securely on, you've checked your tubing for any leaks, and you can now rest assured that your apparatus is working as it should.
What Exactly Does it Do?
It used for checking the heart, lungs and blood pressure. It helps you to discover any sounds produced by the heart or lungs that could be concerning. It also helps you to check your patients blood pressure, which goes hand-in-hand with checking the heart. If your patient has a heart condition, or the potential for one, then it's important to keep track of everything. Tracking your pateints blood pressure along with listening to the sounds of your pateints heart, will give you a better understanding of what could possibly be going on. This helps you to provide your patients with an accurate diagnosis and to receive proper treatment. It's also important for those with lung diseases or conditions that might cause their lungs to not function properly. You can track your patients breathing by listening closely with your apparatus Below we've listed the sounds to watch out for:
Heart: If the heart has a murmur, abnormal heart rythm or any other condition causing the muscle to not function properly, then you'll be able to hear something that sounds like a whooshing noise. Sometimes the heart skips beats, causing a galloping sound. It can also cause friction if there is pericarditis, which is the swelling of the lining surrounding the heart—which sounds like it's rubbing together. When it rubs together, it can make a rasping sound or can also sound like friction. The heart should always make a "lub dub" sound. Any other noises should raise a red flag.
Lungs: Any wheezing, or crackling sounds is cause for concern. The lungs should always sound clear. Make sure to have your patient take a deep breath in and out slowly.
Blood Pressure: You'll want to make sure that you use the bell for this and place it on the brachial artery. You should also use an arm cuff along with your equipment to get a proper reading. The two go hand-in-hand. A healthy blood pressure can range, but shouldn't go above 120 or below 90 systolic. A diastolic reading shouldn't go above 80 or less than 60. Anything within this range is considered to be normal.