Stethoscope Guide for Healthcare Workers with Hearing Loss


Summary:

According to the World Health Organization, 430 million people have disabling hearing loss, while an even greater number suffer from mild or undiagnosed hearing loss. Healthcare professionals with hearing loss can find it difficult to hear subtle, low-frequency heart sounds with a stethoscope or other clinical tools.

At Eko, we believe hearing loss shouldn't prevent clinicians from providing the best care possible. So we created this guide on how digital stethoscopes can work with hearing aids, cochlear implants, and Bluetooth-enabled devices.

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Eko's 75-day return policy lets you try our digital stethoscopes in your practice, at your pace, to make sure it works with your hearing loss solution. Not satisfied after 75 days? Return the device hassle-free.

Hearing Loss Statistics

These facts highlight the prevalence of hearing loss around the world.

0M
44.1 million American adults age 20 and older have some level of hearing loss.1
0x
Hearing loss in the United States is expected to nearly double by the year 2060.1
0B
Worldwide, 1 billion young adults are at risk of permanent, avoidable hearing loss from unsafe listening practices.2

Types of Hearing Loss

The type and severity of hearing loss can determine the best stethoscope solution.

Degrees of hearing loss

There are many types of hearing loss, with a range of severity that affects people differently. Here's a general explanation of the degrees of hearing loss in decibels (dB).

Mild: Can hear sounds above 26-40 dB and may not use hearing aids.

Moderate: Can hear sounds above 40-69 dB, which hearing aids can correct.

Severe: Can hear sounds above 70-94 dB and requires hearing aids or lip reading.

Profound: 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 Stethoscopes With Hearing Loss

Digital stethoscopes offer a variety of features that help clinicians with hearing loss feel more confident in what they hear during an exam.

Human voices are higher frequency than heart sounds. The average voice ranges from 85-300 Hz, while heart beats range from 20-200 Hz. This is problematic for clinicians using a stethoscope because most hearing aids are tuned to improve the volume of voices, not subtle heart beats like S3 and S4. Low-frequency hearing loss makes it particularly difficult for clinicians to auscultate with a traditional stethoscope.

Digital stethoscopes have functionality that support clinicians with hearing loss:

  1. Amplification and noise cancellation
  2. Sound visualization
  3. Bluetooth connection to hearing aids
  4. Wired connection to hearing aids
  5. Automated arrhythmia detection*

1. Amplification and noise cancellation

Eko stethoscopes offer up to 40x amplification, active noise cancellation, and multiple volume settings to help clinicians tune sounds as needed. It's not just about volume — our audio engineers have tuned the CORE 500™ Digital Stethoscope to provide the clearest signals without distracting background noise. For mild hearing loss, amplification by itself can help clinicians auscultate with greater confidence.

Clinicians who wear hearing aids have the option to remove their hearings aids or keep them in while using a stethoscope. The level of performance and comfort may vary depending on the type of hearing loss or hearing aid model. For severe hearing loss, the combination of amplification in the stethoscope + hearing aid can provide the best listening experience.

2. Sound visualization

Pair your stethoscope with the Eko App for the ability to visualize what you're hearing and take recordings for playback or a quick referral. 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. 

3. Wireless connection with hearing aids

The Eko App makes it possible to wirelessly connect your stethoscope to Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids, cochlear implants, or speakers. Sounds will stream directly to hearing aids just like music from your phone, making a smooth workflow that maximizes amplification.

How pairing works:

1. Pair your hearing aids or cochlear implants to your phone. Some manufacturers have their own apps to make this streamlined.
2. Download the Eko App and create an account.
3. Power on your Eko stethoscope and pair it with the Eko App.
4. Toggle on wireless listening in the lower corner of the Eko App.

When Bluetooth pairing is succesful, stethoscope sounds will flow from the stethoscope → Eko App → Bluetooth device. Once paired, you can lock your phone and place it in a pocket or safe location.

Alternative Bluetooth Connection:

The Eko CORE 500™ Digital Stethoscope's removable earpieces are connected with a TRS jack. You can connect a bluetooth transmitter or a hearing aid streamer directly into the CORE 500 TRS jack and bypass the Eko App. This workflow may improve your listening experience, but prevents you from using the other features of the Eko App.

Note: We have not tested Bluetooth connection with all hearing aid brands. Read results of brands we've tested.

4. Wired connection with hearing aids

Recent advancements and availability of Bluetooth hearing aids have made wired connections less common, but can still be valuable depending on type of hearing loss and hearing aid manufacturer.

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. This may be more comfortable with larger behind-the-ear hearing aids, or the additional noise cancellation of sealed headphones may improve the listening experience. Headphones can be plugged directly into the TRS jack of the CORE 500™ or into your phone when a stethoscope is paired with the Eko App.

5. Automated arrhythmia detection

Arrhythmia detection supported by Eko AI flags the presence of AFib, tachycardia, and bradycardia. This provides an added layer of confidence during stethoscope exams.

Work With an Audiologist

Learn how an audiologist can help you find the best hearing loss solution.

We understand the stethoscope is just a small piece of the puzzle and that every clinician works under unique circumstances. There are different types of hearing loss, degrees of severity, and a wide variety of hearing aids. We recommend consulting with an audiologist to find a solution that is best for you. An audiologist can:

  • Help navigate all of your technical options and insurance coverages.
  • Build the rights hearing aid system.
  • Tune hearing aids for a specific stethoscope frequncy channel.
  • Mold custom stethoscope eartips to fit over in-ear hearing aids.

Stethoscope Comparison

Eko CORE 500™ Digital Stethoscope
3M™ Littmann® CORE Digital Stethoscope
Eko CORE™ Digital Attachment
Eko CORE 500™ Digital Stethoscope
3M™ Littmann® CORE Digital Stethoscope
Eko CORE™ Digital Attachment
$429
$379.99
$259
Add to Cart
Add to Cart
Add to Cart

Overview
The pinnacle of digital stethoscope technology, combining high fidelity audio with 3-lead ECG and a full-color display.
Overview
Littmann® cardiology-grade stethoscope enhanced by Eko's CORE™ digital technology.
Overview
Littmann® cardiology-grade stethoscope enhanced by Eko's CORE™ digital technology.
TrueSound™
TrueSound™ technology and up to 40x sound amplification with 7 volume levels.
40x Amplification
Up to 40x amplification, noise cancellation, and 7 volume levels.
40x Amplification
Up to 40x amplification, noise cancellation, and 7 volume levels.
Full-Color Display
Patient data, exam insights, and device settings are visible directly on the stethoscope.
Analog & Amplified Modes
Quickly toggles between traditional acoustic listening and amplified listening.
Analog & Amplified Modes
Quickly toggles between traditional acoustic listening and amplified listening.
Pairs With Eko App
Real-time visualization, data sharing, and arrhythmia detection supported by Eko AI.
Pairs With Eko App
Real-time visualization, data sharing, and arrhythmia detection supported by Eko AI.
Pairs With Eko App
Real-time visualization, data sharing, and arrhythmia detection supported by Eko AI.
Hearing Aid Connection
Supports wireless Bluetooth connection through the Eko App and transmitter or wired connections directly from the stethoscope.
Hearing Aid Connection
Supports wireless Bluetooth, transmitter, or wired connections through the Eko App.
Hearing Aid Connection
Supports wireless Bluetooth, transmitter, or wired connections through the Eko App.

Partner Organizations

Proud Partner of the AMPHL
Proud Partner of the AMPHL

The Association of Medical Professionals with Hearing Losses provides information, promotes advocacy and mentorship, and strives to create a diverse, robust network of individuals with hearing loss interested in or working in healthcare fields.

Stethoscope Reviews

I’m a disabled veteran with hearing loss and when I evaluate a patient I can now hear the sounds needed to be heard! Highly recommend this!
Peter S.
Student
I love this stethoscope — it's the absolute best one I've ever used. From someone with intermittent hearing loss this hasn't let me miss a beat! So glad I purchased this!
April S.
Registered Nurse
With slight hearing loss, this has been a game changer for me. I can hear breath sounds clearly even in the back of the rig. Great product.
Jeremy S.
EMS Provider
Sound is clear, crisp, and I can hear very well with it. I’m more confident with my auscultations. Any provider a bit older and in need of a little hearing assistance — this is for you.
Travis K.
Nurse Practitioner

References
(1) Hernandez, DPT, Nicole. “Hearing Loss Statistics 2024: More Common than You Might Think.” NCOA Adviser, National Council on Aging, 7 Nov. 2023.
(2) Deafness and Hearing Loss, World Health Organization, 2 Feb. 2024.

*Supported by Eko AI

MKT-0002841 Rev 1.0