Tips on listening to heart/lung sounds

  1. I just started Nursing School in late August, and I am having slight difficulty hearing heart and lung sounds. I mean, I can HEAR heart sounds, I just don't know what exactly I am hearing (Like, is it the pulmonary valve? Apical pulse? WHAT IS IT?! Lol) and I can't hear lung sounds at ALL. I am pretty discouraged about this--do any of you RN's out there have some tips?
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    About haleyanna19

    Joined: Sep '10; Posts: 22; Likes: 20
    from US

    12 Comments

  3. by   AprilRNurse
    Get a better stethascope. Seriously- I spent the extra and got a cardiology steth right out of school and don't regret it. After that- I didn't second guess myself with what I was listening to. Also- for heart sounds- google heart sounds. You'll get websites that you can play the different sounds.
  4. by   haleyanna19
    How much are the cardiology stethooscopes? I have a Littmann's lightweight. I think part of my problem is that one ear canal is smaller than the other (it's true--my doctor told my mom that when I was born) so one ear piece fits in my ear and the other one doesn't. we even spent 12 bucks on some smaller earpieces, but I can still hear outside sounds coming in from my right ear (the smaller one). Also, back to the stethoscopes...this is probably a REALLY stupid question, but whatever, I ask them in class every day lol...can you hear all the "other sounds" with a cardio stethoscope?
  5. by   Mike R
    Here are some things that I've found help me. For breath sounds, switch the diaphragm to the large side and ask your patient to breath through the mouth at a normal rate. If I still can't hear I'll ask them to breath a little deeper than they normally would. You can also use the large side for Apical pulse as you're only listening for regularity and rate.

    When listening for valves, flip the stethoscope over to the small bell side and listen over the valve locations. Here you're listening for the lub-dub sounds. Aortic valve is 2nd intercostal space right sternal border, pulmonary valve is 2nd intercostal space left sternal border. Tricuspid valve is something like 4th intercostal space left sternal border and mitral valve is over the API which is 5th intercostal space, left-mid clavicular line.

    With practice, you can hear anything you need to with those lightweights. I work with nurses who swear by those cheap yellow disposable stethoscope's for isolation patients. But honestly, if you can't hear lung sounds with your Lightweight, you won't hear them with an expensive Cardiology. It's all about technique.
  6. by   anonymous1919
    Blocks out sounds, can make everything louder for you.. the works.

    3M„ Littmann® Electronic Stethoscope Model 3100 - WW - heart sounds, cardiology, auscultation, littman, litmann


    Click the link and you can read about it and play with it a little bit to see how it works.

    I'm pretty sure this is hugely expensive... but if you need it, you need it.

    And if anyone wonders why in the heck you have such an expensive stethoscope.. just say you have issues hearing and its to prevent you from making a vital mistake that could kill someone!


  7. by   mangopeach
    Any other recommendations for stethoscopes? I don't start nursing school till January, but I want to get a good one. That Littman 3100 is pricy! but if push came to shove, I guess I would bite the bullet and get it. But are there any others that are good?

    TIA
  8. by   ginmarada
    I love my littmann classic II but it really is all about knowing where to listen and what you're listening for.
  9. by   doublehelix
    does anyone know of any sites with sound guides to the sounds of Korotkoff? My littman came with a CD, but its pretty useless, and I haven't found anything helpful on youtube (there's one lady "teaching" how to do manual BP, and pumps the cuff up to 300!!)
  10. by   Mike R
    Quote from doublehelix
    does anyone know of any sites with sound guides to the sounds of Korotkoff? My littman came with a CD, but its pretty useless, and I haven't found anything helpful on youtube (there's one lady "teaching" how to do manual BP, and pumps the cuff up to 300!!)
    Check out this link and listen to Korotkoff sounds 2. You can hear the different sounds pretty well.
    http://www.thinklabsmedical.com/stet...Library?page=1
  11. by   2ndyearstudent
    Quote from ginmarada
    I love my littmann classic II but it really is all about knowing where to listen and what you're listening for.
    Agreed. I have the same stethoscope but the key is practice, practice, practice. Listen to anyone's chest you can and in clinical, do NOT run quickly through ausculations, take your time and listen.
  12. by   mspontiac
    Quote from anonymous1919
    Blocks out sounds, can make everything louder for you.. the works.

    3M™ Littmann® Electronic Stethoscope Model 3100 - WW - heart sounds, cardiology, auscultation, littman, litmann


    Click the link and you can read about it and play with it a little bit to see how it works.

    I'm pretty sure this is hugely expensive... but if you need it, you need it.

    And if anyone wonders why in the heck you have such an expensive stethoscope.. just say you have issues hearing and its to prevent you from making a vital mistake that could kill someone!


    Wow, cool stethoscope! The going price I found online seems to be around $299.00.
  13. by   haleyanna19
    I guess my Littman Lightweight is decent enough, I just think it's my ear canals, honestly. I ask God, "If you wanted me to become a nurse, why did you give me 'bad ears' to not hear heart and lung sounds accurately with?!" Haha! But God doesnt make mistakes and I know He wants me to be a nurse so I just go with it. Mike R, your info seemed really helpful. Are you an RN?
  14. by   hopeful999
    Bumping this old topic because I have the same problem! I never thought hearing the sounds could be as hard as it is sometimes, and it is so frustrating and upsetting to me when it seems like my peers just get it right away.

    Quote from haleyanna19
    I guess my Littman Lightweight is decent enough, I just think it's my ear canals, honestly. I ask God, "If you wanted me to become a nurse, why did you give me 'bad ears' to not hear heart and lung sounds accurately with?!" Haha! But God doesnt make mistakes and I know He wants me to be a nurse so I just go with it. Mike R, your info seemed really helpful. Are you an RN?
    THIS. The first thing I did that improved things for me SO much was to switch my earpieces. I believe the Littmann stethoscopes come with an extra pair in the box, a pair that is smaller than the ones on the stethoscope. Try the smaller ones. They really helped for me.

    Here are other things that help me:

    -Make sure room is quiet
    -Elevate the bed and the head of the bed
    -Make sure earbuds are in well (see above
    -Make sure nothing hanging on stethoscope
    -Ask patient to lie on left side
    -Begin at apex
    -Landmark the sternum and sternal borders

    Hope that helps. I'm very tempted to buy the Master Cardiology too....

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