The Behind-the-Ear (BTE) hearing aid first emerged in the late 1990s, and it signaled the resurgence of BTE hearing aids in comparison to their ITE counterparts. It has the cosmetic advantage of the CIC in that it is not easily visible to others; yet it has sufficient “real estate” to provide more features and power of the ITC and ITE hearing aid styles. This style of hearing aid has surpassed the full-shell ITE (which fills the entire outer bowl of the ear), sitting behind the outer ear, with tubing that routes the sound into the ear canal.
As with the in-the-ear hearing aid styles, the BTE has a tiny microphone(s) that pick up the sound, the amplifier amplifies it, and a speaker sends this sound through the thin tube which ends in a rubber bud or “dome” inside the ear canal. The vents of the ITE styles were built into the body of the hearing aids themselves. The dome of the thin tube BTE that sits inside the ear canal has vent holes to allow air into the ear canal, this “open fitting” results in a natural open feeling for the wearer.
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Other Hearing Device Styles to Explore
IIC: Invisible In Canal
Suitable for users with a mild to moderate hearing loss, who are looking for the ultimate discreet hearing solution.
CIC: Completely In
For mild to moderate hearing loss. This tiny custom style rests deep in the ear canal. A discreet hearing aid solution.
RIC: Receiver In Canal
Suitable for mild to severe hearing loss. Worn behind the ear, the receiver sits directly in the ear canal.
Pros and Cons
The BTE hearing aids are suitable to most ranges of hearing loss and are suitable for children. The relative positions of the speaker and microphone in this style helps with the issue of feedback that happens when the amplified sound produced by the hearing aid speaker is picked up by the hearing aid microphone. As the speaker sits above the ear far from where wax is produced inside the canal this style hearing aid is easier to clean and maintain than those in the ear or canal. BTE wearers may detect wind noise with this style. It’s important to discuss all the options with your hearing health practitioner to ensure you find the hearing aid that will work best for your unique preferences.
The BTE can accommodate larger, size batteries and is available in rechargeable solutions. Modern Bluetooth connectivity to other devices including smartphones, TVs, computers, music players, and remote microphone accessories. Digital hearing aids have advanced processors that provide better sound quality and speech understanding in background noise.