How to Use a Stethoscope

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How to Use a Stethoscope

It is a symbol of any pediatrician and physician, but today, a stethoscope is no longer anything special, even to the layman. It could be construed that most people know the basics for a stethoscope. They’ll use their intuition to insert the ear tips in the ears while placing a diaphragm on the chest of the sick person.

Does this make you a qualified stethoscope user? Interestingly, the proper use of a stethoscope is known to few people. Are you new in the field of medicine and would like to know how to use a stethoscope? Maybe you have already done this in medical school but you just want to be sure with yourself before trying it for the first time in a hospital scenario with real patients.

Keep reading to discover the various types of stethoscopes, as well as handy tips on the efficient use of the instrument.

Various Types of Stethoscopes

Having been invented more than two centuries years ago, stethoscopes are still widely used by medical practitioners especially in the initial diagnosis of diseases and other health conditions. While today’s device has undergone a series of modifications, it still remains one of the simplest medical tools.

For the most part, it comes as a headset that is connected to a chest-piece through a flexible tube. The tube is used to transmit sounds. This article will classify stethoscopes basing on their designs. On the basis of design, stethoscopes majorly fall under two categories:

  • Acoustic devices
  • Electronic devices

The biggest difference between acoustic and electronic stethoscopes is that while the first one is unpowered, the latter uses powered digital technology to improve traditional auscultation.

Useful Tips to Using a Stethoscope

Effective stethoscope diagnosis depends on the quality of auscultations. Consequently, it is vital that you know how to:

  • Properly wear a stethoscope
  • Correctly hold the bell or diaphragm
  • Appropriately place it against the chest

Besides the above basic guidelines, below are five straight-forward tips for using a stethoscope. These tips can go a long way towards helping first-time users get the hang of the device quickly. Experienced users, on the other hand, can still cross-check whether they’ve been doing it the proper way.

  1. Begin by checking the tool for any likely damages. You want to make sure that the chest piece does not have any loose parts, and the especially the tubing shouldn’t bear any cracks. Such damage will interfere with the airtight sealing, consequentially affecting the quality of auscultations.
  2. Look out for potential obstructions. When using this device, the diaphragm should directly go against the bare skin of the patient. The patient should, therefore, take off their clothes or expose the area in need of auscultation. Be sure to clean the diaphragm beforehand, to get rid of debris that could affect the quality of auscultations.
  3. Re-position the headset making sure they almost point forward before getting the ear tips in the ears. This position ensures the user has maximum comfort. It also helps to hide surrounding noises for enhanced sound transmission.
  4. To ensure an all-around grip, consider holding the chest piece between the middle and index fingers. It helps to avoid the application of excess pressure that can rub the diaphragm and create unnecessary noises.
  5. When placing the diaphragm against the skin, be sure to do it gently without exerting too much pressure. This will allow the user to get the clear sounds hence better diagnosis.

With these quick tips, you can be certain of getting the right auscultations for speedy and appropriate diagnosis, a requisite to prescribing further treatment. To learn more, visit

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Stacey Chillemi

I am on a mission to transform the health of millions worldwide. Check out my website at I am a popular and recognizable health and lifestyle reporter and expert, columnist and health host. Author of The Complete Guide to Natural Healing and Natural Remedies for Common Conditions, along with 20 other published books. I am the founder of The Complete Herbal Guide and a recognized health and natural remedies expert, with over 20 years in practice as a Health Coach. I write for the Huffington Post, Huff Post, Thrive Global and Medium (Owned by Arianna Huffington). I have been a guest on the Dr. Oz Show, local news, and numerous radio shows. My focus is on natural healing, herbal remedies, alternative methods, self-motivation, food for medicine, nutrition, fitness, natural beauty remedies and the power of positive thinking.