According to the World Health Organization, 430 million people have disabling hearing loss, while an even greater number suffer from mild hearing loss. Hearing loss is widespread across healthcare workers and can make it difficult to hear subtle heart sounds, but it should not prevent clinicians from providing the best care possible. There are various hearing aids and other tools that offer solutions and help clinicians confidently deliver the best possible care.
Hearing loss statistics
The strongest predictor of hearing loss is age. As adults get older, hearing gets worse, and things like loud music and noise pollution exacerbate the issue.
- There are 48 million people in the United States with hearing loss (14% of the population).
- Among those older than 60 years, over 25% are affected by disabling hearing loss.
- Among adults aged 70 and older with hearing loss who could benefit from hearing aids, fewer than one in three (30%) have ever used them.
- Even fewer adults aged 20 to 69 (approximately 16 percent) who could benefit from wearing hearing aids have ever used them.
Types of hearing loss
There are many types of hearing loss, with a range of severity that affects people differently. Here is a general explanation of the degrees of hearing loss in decibels (dB).
Mild: a person can hear sounds above 26-40 dB and may not use hearing aids
Moderate: a person can hear sounds above 40-69 dB, which hearing aids can correct
Severe: a person can hear sounds above 70-94 dB and requires hearing aids or lip reading
Profound: a person cannot hear sound lower than 95 dB and is likely to use ASL or cochlear implant
Frequencies of hearing loss
High: Difficulty hearing frequencies between 2,000 and 8,000 Hz (Typically Age-Related)
Low: Difficulty hearing frequencies 1,000 Hz or lower (Meniere's Disease)
Mid: Difficulty hearing frequencies between 500-2000 Hz (Cookie Bite)
Both: Users reporting both high and low-frequency losses
Using a stethoscope with hearing loss
Hearing subtle heart sounds is difficult, especially for individuals with low-frequency hearing loss, because heart sounds are commonly produced at 1,000 Hz or lower. Low-frequency hearing loss makes it particularly difficult for clinicians to auscultate with a traditional stethoscope.
Eko stethoscopes enable clinicians to hear low-frequency sounds in the most challenging environments with amplification, active noise cancellation, and cardiology-grade acoustics. Additionally, the features of the Eko App can help augment what a clinician is listening to for an extra level of support. The 3M™ Littmann® CORE Digital Stethoscope, Eko CORE Digital Attachment, and Eko DUO ECG + Digital Stethoscope are great tools for individuals with hearing loss.
We want you to use Eko in your practice with confidence, so every Eko stethoscope is backed by a 100% refundable, 75-day workflow trial.
Hearing loss solutions with Eko
1. Amplified stethoscopes
Eko stethoscopes offer up to 40x amplification, active noise cancellation, and multiple volume settings to help clinicians hear sounds loud and clear in challenging environments. Amplified stethoscopes are most common for individuals with mild hearing loss who do not use hearing aids.
Some clinicians with hearing aids prefer amplified stethoscopes combined with hearing aids. You can either remove hearing aids to insert the stethoscope earpieces or, if comfortable, insert stethoscope earpieces with hearing aids still in place. The level of performance and comfort may vary depending on the type of hearing loss or hearing aid model.
2. Amplification + visualization
By pairing a stethoscope with the Eko App, clinicians can visualize what they hear and make recordings for playback or a quick referral bringing confidence and reinforcement.
- The Eko App shows heart sounds waveforms (PCG) in real time.
- Visual cues make it possible to see heart abnormalities simultaneously while listening to them.
- The visual waveform is so detailed that some clinicians prefer to assess patients with only visual queues.
- Here's how to use visualization in clinical settings.
Additionally, Eko AI analysis flags AFib (with the Eko DUO) to help find early signs of heart disease. Eko's real-time AI analysis acts as a second set of ears and helps providers detect abnormalities at the point of care.
3. Connect to hearing aids via Bluetooth
Using the Eko App, clinicians can connect Eko stethoscopes with Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids and cochlear implants. Sounds will stream directly to hearing aids wirelessly, making a smooth workflow that maximizes amplification.
All Eko stethoscopes provide wireless functionality utilizing Bluetooth technology.
How to connect to Bluetooth devices:
- Connect your Bluetooth hearing aids to your phone.
- Power on your Eko CORE or DUO and pair it to your phone via the Eko App.
- In the Eko App, find the option to toggle 'Play from Headphone' ON. You should now be able to hear sounds through your hearing aids.
- Turn on the feature 'Volume Boost' in the Eko App settings to further amplify sounds as needed.
- Once paired, you can lock your phone and place it in a pocket or safe location.
View a demonstration video on how to auscultate with a Bluetooth wireless stethoscope.
For further questions, visit our Support Portal. As an alternate workflow, some clinicians prefer to use wired over-the-ear headphones over their hearing aids for maximum amplification and reduced background noise.
Work with an audiologist
We understand that every clinician works under unique circumstances. There are different types of hearing loss, degrees of severity, and a wide variety of hearing aids. That said, Eko recommends consulting with an audiologist to find a solution that is best for you. The stethoscope is one piece of the larger puzzle, so we offer a no-risk 75-day trial to allow clinicians to evaluate the Eko in their practice.
For a custom solution, we recommend custom hearing aids or custom earpieces.
Learn five ways to use the Eko DUO ECG + Digital Stethoscope with hearing aids.
AMPHL is an association of deaf and hard-of-hearing medical professionals. Here are a few AMPHL resources: