A lot of new features have been added into the conventional stethoscope for the past couple of years. However, providing stethoscope options for people with hearing loss is still a challenge. This goes for both hearing and non-hearing aid users. Nonetheless, certain scenarios focus on the hearing needs of the stethoscope user to determine their possible options of hearing aid stethoscopes, and you can read more about them later on in the article.
On Hearing Aids Stethoscopes
Hearing aid users who are required to use a stethoscope for their routine job are often faced with difficulties finding the best hearing aid stethoscopes for the job. There are still some stethoscope options for them, albeit limited. When it comes to choosing between stethoscope options for hearing aid users, there are a few questions that must be addressed.
First, will the medical professional be keeping their hearing aids in their ears while doing auscultation procedures? Second, what kind of hearing aid (custom vs. BTE) do medical professionals use?
Third, what are the features included in their hearing aids (e.g., streamer and t-coil equipped)? Just by analyzing these questions, you will come to realize that there is not any one-size-fits-all stethoscope solution.
Nonetheless, what you can find below are some sample scenarios that identify what possible stethoscope options audiologists can provide their patients. While the options listed below are not guaranteed to produce the best outcomes, at least, they can be considered and be made available for those who need a good stethoscope for their job.
Different Scenarios in Using Hearing Aids
Medical professional does not want to wear hearing aids while doing auscultation.
This is very common among medical professionals who are hearing aid users. This also provides the most direct and hassle-free stethoscope solution with the highest and quickest rate of success. Stethoscope options for these individuals include commercially-available amplified stethoscopes that come with typical earpieces. Some examples include E-Scope II with standard earpieces, Adscope, and ThinkLabs Ds328+. You may want to check this 3M Littmann Classic II Monitoring Stethoscope review as well.
Medical professional wants to keep wearing hearing aids in the ears (custom hearing aid user, with no streamer and no t-coil).
There are three options for this particular scenario. For traditional stethoscopes, the tips of the earpieces can be replaced with stethomate tips. Just remember that the success rate for such a solution is low.
Other options should be made available when the solution does not offer success. The second solution would be special earmolds (Westone) that are designed to interface between stethoscope earpieces and ITCs or CICs. The third option is to invest in the modified E-Scope II that comes with either oversized headphones or standard headphones.
Hearing aids should stay in the ears, and the headphones should be placed over the ears when auscultation is done. Keep in mind that some patients might not go with these solutions in terms of aesthetics.
Medical professional wants to keep wearing hearing aids in the ears (open-fit BTE or RIC user, with no streamer and no t-coil).
Try using the current best stethoscope or any of the amplified stethoscopes made mention in Scenario #1 while keeping the hearing aids of the patient in their ears if they can tolerate this particular configuration.
If not, investing in the modified E-Scope II with headphones can be a good solution. This allows hearing aids to remain in the ears while upon auscultation, headphones are placed over the ears. When feedback poses as an issue, you can go try using the modified E-Scope with oversized headphones.
Medical professional wants to keep wearing hearing aids in the ears (ITC or BTE user, with t-coil but no streamer).
For ITC users, the use of stethomate tips should be considered, making sure that other options will be made readily available during the patient appointment.
When it comes to either BTE or ITC users, the modified E-Scope II with headphone is a good investment. This allows hearing aids to remain in the ear while the headphones will then be placed over both ears while auscultating. When there are feedback issues, the E-Scope II with oversized headphones can be another option.
For BTE or ITC users whose hearing aids are t-coil equipped, instead of using oversized or standard headphones, you may order the modified E-Scope II without earpieces.
Also, an induction ear hook accessory should also be ordered (binaural or monoaural Silhouette). This configuration will immediately send auscultation signals to the t-coil of the hearing aid. For BTE users, the modified E-Scope II without any earpieces can be directly interfaced with the hearing instruments through direct audio input. However, this configuration requires additional accessories such as an audio shoe/boot from the hearing aid manufacturer and either a binaural or a monoaural E-Scope II DAI cable.
Medical professional wants to keep wearing hearing aids in the ears and what to use their streamer to wirelessly send signals to their hearing aid.
This scenario remains the most confusing because there are some amplified stethoscopes with Bluetooth capabilities that have limited Bluetooth capabilities and some that only work intermittently.
Take, for instance, the Audiologist’s Choice Bluetooth Amplified Stethoscope. It is a stethoscope hearing aid that has been made commercially available to transmit auscultation signals wirelessly to the streamer of the hearing aid user.
However, even with its claims, the product has been shown to have signal transmission issues such as pairing interference between the scope’s amplifier and the streamer of the hearing aid. Another question involves intermittency that has been shown to interfere during auscultation procedure even when successful pairing is done.
Hearing Aids with Bluetooth Feature
There are also instances where the hearing aid offers a Bluetooth feature that has no relation with the configuration abilities of the streamer of the hearing aid. The 3M Littmann Amplified Stethoscope, for one, features Bluetooth capabilities.
However, the feature is only limited to transmitting recorded signals wirelessly to a PC with Bluetooth capabilities. Until this time, there are no successful pairings made between a hearing aid streamer and a 3M Littmann.
Sadly, people always expect a lot in terms of the product capabilities of amplified stethoscopes with Bluetooth capabilities. The fundamental solution to this particular scenario is to set realistic expectations. Also, no promises should be made with what can only be delivered by the stethoscope option.
For more details about hearing aid stethoscopes, check this video: