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A stethoscope makes it possible to hear sounds inside your body you wouldn't normally be able to hear. Doctors and nurses keep a stethoscope handy to listen to heart and lungs sounds and when checking blood pressure on patients. It's a piece of equipment most health care professionals wouldn't be without. You don't need to be a medical professional to have one - they're also available for home use.
A stethoscope makes it possible to more clearly hear heart and lung sounds. Doctors use one to make sure the heartbeat is regular and that there are no added sounds that could indicate heart problems. When you use a manual blood pressure monitor to check blood pressure, you need a stethoscope to hear the heart sounds. Doctors also use a stethoscope to listen to breath sounds. With a stethoscope a doctor or nurse can hear abnormal lung sounds that might indicate heart failure, pneumonia or lung disease. You can also hear bowel sounds when you place the bell of the stethoscope over the abdominal region. Absence of these sounds or sounds that are abnormal may be a sign of intestinal problems.
Some stethoscopes have a single head while others have a dual head. The bell mode of a dual-head stethoscope is used to listen to lung sounds since it picks up low-frequency sounds best. The diaphragm mode is ideal for listening to heart sounds that are high in frequency. With a dual-head stethoscope, you can quickly switch heads to maximize the ability to hear particular sounds. The chest piece of a higher priced stethoscope is often made of heavier metal like stainless steel or titanium. A heavier metal chest piece transmits sound well and is more durable. Some of the more expensive stethoscopes are designed to filter out distracting outside noise and can amplify sounds for the ultimate in clarity. Lower priced stethoscopes are often made of a lighter weight metal like aluminum or plastic.
Also available are stethoscopes that are latex-free for those who have latex allergies. For teaching purposes, stethoscopes with two attached headsets allow two people to listen at the same time. You have a choice of colors too. If basic classic black isn't to your liking, stethoscopes are available in a range of colors. You can also choose from a variety of pediatric stethoscopes designed for the small frames of children and babies.
Stethoscopes are available in all price ranges. Consider what you'll be using it for. If you're looking for a stethoscope to use at home to take blood pressures, an inexpensive stethoscope with a light-weight chest piece may be all you need. If you plan on using a stethoscope in a medical setting for diagnostic purposes, a more expensive stethoscope with a heavy chest piece that filters out outside noise may be a better option. If you'll be using your stethoscope to listen to children's hearts, a pediatric stethoscope designed for smaller frames works best.
Consider all of these factors as well as your budget when choosing a stethoscope and explore the other home tests and monitoring products offered by Walgreens.