How the Stethoscope Works

How the Stethoscope Works


It does matters not whether you’re a medical student or a curious person, and it makes no difference whether you’d like to monitor your child’s parent’s health at home. Whatever your situation is, knowing how to use a stethoscope properly can be a huge plus. Stethoscopes are essential when it comes to determining a diagnosis and monitoring a patient’s health. In this article, we will show you how how to use them, and how they work.

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How Does a Stethoscope Work?

Almost everyone has seen a stethoscope, and many have even visited a stethoscope shop at some point or another, but have you ever wondered how the stethoscope works, or how to work it? If you have, then this article’s for you. 

Sometimes getting used to handling a stethoscope can take time, even though you are already familiar with the chest piece and diaphragm. And in case you’re not, here’s a quick run-through: The chest piece is a small, round metal piece, and the plastic around it is the diaphragm. When you place a stethoscope on the chest, the sound in it will make the diaphragm vibrate. That sound travels to the doctor’s ears through a tube. 


Each wave reflects the inside walls of the tube and that process is called multiple reflection. High-pitched sounds cause a greater pressure than the low-pitched.

How Do You Prepare to Use a Stethoscope?

  1. Choose a stethoscope of good quality – single tubed ones are better than the double tubed.
  2. Select a cozy and nice place to use the stethoscope in. A stethoscope should be used in a quiet environment; otherwise, you might not be able to hear anything because of background noises.
  3. A patient should sit up if you are checking the lungs, but if you are checking for bowel sounds then the patient should lie down.
  4. Choose between the bell and diaphragm. The bell is the round side of the drum and it is used for low-pitched sounds. The diaphragm is for medium to high pitched sounds.

Here are the easy instructions to follow when you use a stethoscope:

  1. Make sure that the earpieces are facing each other before you put them into your ears.
  2. Tap on the diaphragm to check if the tubing is free of leaks. If you do not hear anything, then there may be a leak inside.
  3. Place the earbuds in your ears while they are facing towards your face.
  4. The drum you will use on the patient should face the same direction as the dented side of its head.
  5. Place the drum on the patient’s chest/abdomen. There are different types of stethoscopes for each body part.
  6. Listen carefully to the sounds. Always make sure to listen more than once.

How Can I Select the Right Model?

Before you buy a stethoscope, consider the possible options and make sure to choose the model that is suitable for your profession and needs. Do you need a classic or digital stethoscope? If you are a medical student or professional, which part of the body will you be checking? These questions are essential before you purchase a stethoscope.

For example, if you have been struggling with hearing sounds, then perhaps you should go for a digital stethoscope. If you are fine with a traditional model and your hearing is all good, then a classic model will do it for you. Additionally, there are different types of models for different parts of the body. The lungs, chest, and abdomen all require different stethoscopes.

How Can I Care for My Stethoscope?

When you finally purchase a stethoscope it is important to properly take care of it, especially if you want it to last as long as possible. Firstly, protect your stethoscope by keeping it away from extreme hot or cold temperatures. If you do not, you might damage it. You should also keep it away from oils and solvents because it is not really waterproof, and the liquids can damage it.

Additionally, always make sure to disinfect your stethoscope before you use it. People usually use a 70% isopropyl alcohol which is helpful when it comes to killing germs and preventing infections. However, do not dip your device into water, and don’t use a sterilization process. All that’s necessary is to wipe the stethoscope with alcohol. 

Finally, don’t forget to clean the earpieces on your stethoscope! You can simply detach them for easier cleaning, and so that you will be able to wipe down each earpiece properly.


To sum up, we’ve talked about the basics of stethoscopes and how they actually work. In this article, we provided you with a short guide on properly using this device, and how to care for it. We have also briefly talked about how to select the right model according to your profession, and how the stethoscope works. Hopefully, you can now say that you’ve gained some new information on stethoscopes. 

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By | 2019-06-11T11:03:56+00:00 June 13th, 2019|Guest Posts|Comments Off on How the Stethoscope Works