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Mumsnetters aren't necessarily qualified to help if your child is unwell. If you have any serious medical concerns, we would urge you to consult your GP.

Thinking of buying a stethoscope for home use

(29 Posts)
Laura185 Tue 23-Aug-16 05:02:11

My dd 8 has many coughs and colds so was thinking of buying a stethoscope to use at home monitoring her when I need to take her to the doctor. Question 1 how do I get to learn what sounds to listen for, is there anyone I can ask to show me ? Question 2 is there a benefit to buying a paediatric stethoscope opposed to an adult one to use ?

VioletBam Tue 23-Aug-16 05:05:09

Well to answer your first question...you don't. Not unless you go to university and learn how to be a nurse or a doctor.

Non medical professionals shouldn't mess about with this kind of thing...it's just not advisable unless it's prescribed self-administered treatment for which people are trained to do.

IwillrunIwillfly Tue 23-Aug-16 05:19:04

You don't need a stethoscope to know when she needs to be seen. You can tell by looking at a child if their breathing is abnormal. I'm a nurse and we don't use them. You look at how fast their breathing, are they working hard to breath (shoulders going up and down, seeing their ribs suck in) is their breathing noisy and how's their colour. If by looking at her, you think she's struggling to breath she needs seen. A stethoscope won't help you make that decision. It takes years to learn how to properly listen to a chest and to know the subtle difference between wheezes, crackles and crepes, and to know whether air entry is good.

IwillrunIwillfly Tue 23-Aug-16 05:23:48

I looked after a kid who had asthma. His parents held off taking them to be seen because they'd bought a stethoscope and been practicing listening to his chest and on that occasion couldn't hear any wheeze. They ignored his other symptoms because they thought his chest was clear. In fact what was going on was he had no air entry because he was so tight and the delay in treatment could have been disastrous. I'm not saying that to make you feel bad, and I'm sure your just wanting to look after your dd the best you can.

AMR123456 Tue 23-Aug-16 17:04:17

As everyone else has said don't buy one. If you think there's an issue she needs to be seen by a trained healthcare professional. Trust your instincts & if she is ok that's fine that you've had her checked out & if there is a problem she'll be in the right place

ElectronicDischarge Tue 23-Aug-16 17:11:44

Just don't do it. You're not trained and will drive yourself crazy.

kansasmum Tue 23-Aug-16 17:16:01

I am a nurse. Do not buy one. You have no clue what you're listening to and could miss something. The reason Drs/nurses go through considerable training is to diagnose.
You're likely to cause yourself far more worry. Go by how your child seems generally, whether they have a fever etc. If you are worried, call your gp don't self diagnose or google!!!

bonzo77 Tue 23-Aug-16 17:18:07

Just no. Get a medical degree first.

freetrampolineforall Tue 23-Aug-16 17:18:42

Please don't get one. Your job is to be a parent and not untrained medic. If you have concerns, see a medical professional. A thermometer is the kit you need.

MinisWin Tue 23-Aug-16 17:19:47

Just to reiterate above, DON'T do it - I'm a doctor, I've been listening to chests for 8 years, on a daily basis for the last 3-4, and it takes a LONG time to develop certainty and conviction over what you are hearing - a stethoscope is a totally obsolete tool, and some may argue downright dangerous, in any other circumstance than in the hands of a trained professional, medical, nursing or otherwise.

PatMullins Tue 23-Aug-16 17:26:09

"to use at home monitoring her when I need to take her to the doctor."

Why don't you just take her to the doctor and let them do it?

welshweasel Tue 23-Aug-16 17:27:57

I'm a doctor. I have a stethoscope. I've never used it on my child. I see his own doctor for that.

Thataintnoetchasketch Tue 23-Aug-16 17:32:42

I'm a respiratory physiotherapist but since having DS & being off on mat leave I've never felt the need to auscultate his chest despite some fruity coughs & colds.

You'll know better how your daughter is within herself, whether she has a temp, is her breathing laboured, is she short of breath, does she have a productive cough & what colour is her spit etc. I know when DS is brewing something a day or two before he starts coughing & sneezing because he's not himself.

If you have no medical training & you can't decide whether your DD needs a doctor then just take her. Maybe a paediatric first aid course or something similar would give you a bit more confidence?

summertimeandtheweatheris Tue 23-Aug-16 20:32:25

We have a SATS monitor at home which we use, but I would never try & learn how to listen using a stethoscope. What are your concerns with her chest? If you bought one, who is going to teach you how to use it & what are you going or would you do if you heard a wheeze or crackles or the noise that tells the professional it is bronchiolitis? Treat it yourself? Tell the doctor what it is?

misspym Tue 23-Aug-16 20:36:24

If you want extra reassurance maybe get a oximeter which is a device that clips on to the finger and reads oxygen levels. I used one when dd was a toddler and her asthma was difficult to control.

summertimeandtheweatheris Tue 23-Aug-16 20:40:26

Posted too soon...

You need to identify what your concerns are & discuss with your child's GP or consultant what red flags to look for in your particular child - drawing in etc - some signs are universal some you will get to know for your child, but the stethoscope won't help treat or help you get your child to a doctor.

We have a SATS machine as it helps us know when to go to hospital, but it is only one part of the picture, we have an agreed threshold with the consultant and see all the pieces when making the call to get help. Breathing is something to leave to the experts.

SlumdogMummy Tue 23-Aug-16 20:40:29

Third the suggestion of an oximeter. DD has asthma and the best way to see how she's doing is looking at her SATs. Good value on Amazon with reviews.

MinisWin Tue 23-Aug-16 23:21:24

I'd also be incredibly hesitant about the use of an oximeter at home unless on the specific medical advice (which I feel you would be unlikely to get except in very narrow circumstances, which I'm assuming apply to posters above). Children and young people tend to compensate incredibly well when unwell in terms of their observations (heart rate, resp rate, oxygen sats etc) until pretty late on, then can go rapidly off a cliff. Again, in untrained hands an oximeter would be likely to provide no more than false reassurance. PLEASE stick with parental instinct, and a fairly low threshold for getting your child checked if you have concerns, and discuss with your doctor what 'red flag' symptoms might be which would prompt you to seek attention, as mentioned by previous posters. No doctor will EVER resent a concerned parent getting their unwell child checked over.

MaryPoppinsPenguins Tue 23-Aug-16 23:26:42

I bought a real one for my DD to play with (she's obsessed with doctor stuff!) and much as we play with it and it's cool to hear her heartbeat etc, I imagine it's very hard to use correctly if you're not actually a doctor or a nurse.

Olympiathequeen Wed 24-Aug-16 18:11:21

I was taught on a course how to listen to a chest with a stethoscope and it was seriously difficult to differentiate a chest rub from rub-a-dub-dub!

I scraped through but honestly wouldn't say it's a skill I will ever master.

I'm a nurse so I have an idea about how chest should sound and what does what but really doubt anyone would be able to use a stethoscope with any sense.

I would go on you tube and look at some of the presentations for children's chest conditions to give you a better idea of what to look for, and read up on the subject.

SirKillalot Wed 24-Aug-16 19:52:33

I'm a paediatric nurse and agree with everyone else saying please don't do this. I don't have this skill and I've been nursing for years. You aren't a respiratory physio or a doctor. It's dangerous. Same with a sats machine. What's the first thing we get taught? Look at the child, not the monitor.

If you are concerned about your child's breathing take them to the GP.

lougle Thu 25-Aug-16 15:13:21

Just another vote to say don't do it. I use a stethoscope in my every day work and I'd say that most of my colleagues would agree that it's a very tricky skill. We can often identify if zones are quiet or crackly, etc. But quite honestly you can't tell if that means anything without medical knowledge.

You need to have confidence in your parental instincts. Is your DD behaving as well as she seems? Does she seem to be struggling to breathe, adjusting her position to breathe, having difficulty in completing sentences/climbing stairs? Is she pale or blue around the lips....all stuff you can observe from beside her.

PassMeTheFrazzlesPlease Thu 25-Aug-16 20:08:14

I have a SATS monitor and am not a Dr or nurse.

I use it for myself (I have asthma) and for my DS who has asthma. It has saved lots of out of hours visits - I get anxious about his health because of past experience. I count his breathing rate, look to see if he is 'staring in' under his ribs and look at how colour, his nehaviour etc as well. It does help though as if I can see that his oxygen is 99% (and everything else is good) then I keep an due on him at home, rather than dashing off for an emergency apt if he is coughing or a bit chesty.

I can't see how that is dangerous. When his SATS were once a bit lower than usual, we went straight to out of hours (he also had a temperature) and he turned out to have a chest infection.

Our Dr knows I check his sats when he has a cough or sounds wheezy and she doesn't seem concerned by it .

PassMeTheFrazzlesPlease Thu 25-Aug-16 20:10:00

*sucking in.

In fact? I have just remembered that it was a nurse at the hospital who told me that you can buy the fingertip monitors cheaply online!

InsertUsernameHere Thu 25-Aug-16 20:16:51

Agree with all above. The other thing to add is that a stethoscope is not a toy and shouldn't be used as one. They are unsurprisingly very effective at amplifying noises - so if a child has one in their ears - another child speaking loudly into the end or marking a loud noise will be ear-splittingly loud bitter experience

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