Having trouble hearing with stethoscope

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2,016 Posts

Specializes in Telemetry & Obs.

I ordered a Littman Master Classic II from allheart.com, but it arrived NOT personalized after I'd paid $14.95. I wasn't happy with the color either, so decided to check out stethoscopes locally to see what are the options available.

I tried out an ultrascope, but couldn't hear with it. The salesperson was floored because she said they were superior to Littman. Whatever....I honestly couldn't hear a thing. I ended up ordering a Littman Cardiology 3 that comes with a cd of heart sounds and a scissors kit.

I sure hope I can hear with it :)

Long Term Care Columnist / Guide

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

108 Articles; 9,985 Posts

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych.

I ordered a Littman Cardiology II through the mail as a birthday present to myself the year after I graduated. Couldn't hear SQUAT with the darned thing, either.......I thought it was just me. Then one day I was discussing stethoscopes with a co-worker who couldn't use Littman scopes either, who swore by the Ultrascope and let me try hers. Well, I could've picked up heart sounds on a patient in the next BED with that thing......bought one at the local uniform shop for less than a hundred bucks, and I've never used anything else since. I have mild hearing loss in the left ear, and this scope compensates for it somehow......I don't know why, but it works!

RN 2005

237 Posts


I have a Littman.....Classic SE I think or something like that. Anyway, my first day of labs I freaked because I thought it was broken. I could not hear a thing!! I felt like such an idiot after I figured out that you can turn a little piece on the scope to switch back and forth from the bell and diaphragm!! :p

But really, how would you know if it is not in the directions?! :wink2:


1,104 Posts

I also have a hearing deficit in my left ear. I started out with a cheapie stethoscope, a rappaport sprague style. I NEVER heard a SINGLE sound! Not even in my right ear and the thing had 2 tubes! The instructors told me to just keep practicing, but everything was basically nonexesitant. So, I ordered a Littman Master Classic II from allheart.com. I actually like mine. I is one sided so I always use the right side. I can hear really well through it. I guess I am lucky though, because from the other posts on here, my allheart.com Littmann seems to be a rarity! ;) Never heard of the ultrascope before. Sounds like a good idea, though.


50 Posts

:o I've had the same problem when it comes to using the double stethoscope at clinicals, I can hear with my Littman just fine, I always hear the last beat of a BP just fine, picking up that first beat is really hard for me. Hope you find something that works for you:)


2,016 Posts

Specializes in Telemetry & Obs.

i wish i COULD hear with the ultrascope...they have so many colors, etc to choose from and they're all sooooo pretty...i especially like the purple glitter :)

or the beach scene...maybe even the flag...or the meadow...

heck, maybe it's a good thing i can't hear with one...i'd never make up my mind which to get LOL

PennyLane, RN

1,193 Posts

I;m having trouble too, but my problem is that the ear pieces don't stay in my ear canal. I must have small ear canals--the earpieces slip down and just hang in that grove above my ear lobes. The only way I can get them to stay is if I hold the steth with one hand! GRRRR. I have a Littman Cardio III and they did include an extra set of earpieces, but those are even bigger than the ones that were on there! I don't know how I'm going to manage since I want to work at Shock Trauma.


2 Posts

I don't have hearing loss, but I do have a constant, 24-7 ringing in my ears from Minere's Disease. I absolutely cannot hear a single through my stethoscope but the ringing!

So, I went to the audiologoist at my ENT's office, and she made ear molds for both of my ears that fit on the end of my stethoscope. The molds have a hole in each one which is what I needed. A regular stethoscope's ear pieces completely plug my ears giving an "occlusion affect". I can hear everything now that I have those ear molds!

As for your instructor telling you that you don't belong in nursing if you can't hear.....they absolutely cannot do that! They cannot discriminate based on a disability.....and even if you are not disabled, which I am not, this lack of hearing is a disability when it comes to nursing. My instructors told me that I could definitely finish my nursing program if these ear molds didn't work. They just said they would work something out.

Now, to just get those couple of nosy body students in my class to mind their own business. I've heard one of them comment that I shouldn't be allowed to continue if I couldn't hear. She has asked me repeatedly when I was going to check off on B/P and apical pulse. I just said, "You are really worried about that aren't you?" and left it at that. I swear, I really wonder how some of the students in my class actually got accepted...., but that is a whole 'nother topic!

Check into ear molds with an audiologist......Good luck!


265 Posts

Excellent suggestion soontobelpn!

And one that many will take advantage of also I bet!

I am going to mention it to my instructors just in case there is ever anyone else who comes through the program in the future with hearing problems

Thanks again!


145 Posts

Hi. You said you currently use an electronic stethoscope? I'm curious, how do those work? I'm sometimes hard of hearing too, many things sound muffled to me. I use a Littman Classic and it works fine... Sometimes fancy schmancy expensive stuff is not better than regular... Good luck!


219 Posts

Specializes in Neuro, Med-surg..


I don't know if you will read this since this post is from a long time ago, but you mentioned something about the Sprague-Rappaport steths. You said to not use any of the bells, but to use the peds diaphragm. Why is this? I just returned a Prestige S/R because I felt I couldn't hear well out of it. It was also fairly long to (> 22"). ADC sells a 16" S/R online that I was thinking of trying since I am having a heck of a time trying to hear out of other stethoscopes. I even bought a fairly expensive one but not much luck there either. I think I'm going to get my ears checked just to be sure.

BTW - I'm a nursing student so I don't have 'trained ears' yet, so that my be part of the problem. I just want to be sure I can hear what I need to hear to assess well. Thanks!


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