Once seen as bulky and cumbersome, behind-the-ear (BTE) style hearing aids have come a long way since their original designs. Modern technology has allowed the cases of these devices to become slimmer and lighter, while their larger casing offers more power and options than most in-the-canal devices.
Is a Behind-The-Ear Hearing Aid Right for Me?
BTE devices remain the most popular style of hearing aids. The device is contained in a plastic shell that fits behind the ear, and is connected to an earpiece placed inside the ear canal via a thin plastic tube or wire. Since the casing of the device is outside the ear canal, users can easily adjust the volume and settings without removing the device.
There are three different types of behind-the-ear hearing aids:
- Standard BTE. These hearing aids can correct all types and degrees of hearing loss, and offer volume controls and buttons to adjust settings on the outer casing. Standard devices can be fully automatic or offer manual control of programs and settings, so you should ask your hearing care provider to show you the differences before choosing your device.
- Fusion BTE. Fusion devices are best for patients with moderate to severe hearing loss, as they can be easily adapted to correct changes in hearing. Patients whose hearing is expected to get worse may want to consider the Fusion option so that they will not have to buy a new hearing aid soon after their first hearing aid.
- Receiver-in-the-Ear hearing aids (RIE). Best for mild to moderately severe hearing loss, this device is similar to a standard BTE in that the casing is hidden behind the ear. However, in this case, the receiver sits inside the ear instead of inside the hearing aid case. As a result, RIE devices may be smaller than other BTE aids. One example of these devices is the Widex Dream 440, which also offers a tinnitus therapy program for people striving to overcome head noise.
In order to choose the right hearing aid to suit your lifestyle and condition, you should be aware of the advantages BTE devices have over other styles of hearing aids. BTE devices offer a variety of benefits, including:
- Size. It may be the largest of all modern hearing aids, but that size comes with many advantages. The casing is large enough to hold many directional microphones rather than just one, allowing the wearer to hear in all directions. It is easier to hold, change batteries, make volume adjustments, and turn on and off, making it a good choice for those with limited dexterity. Finally, it is harder to lose and more difficult to break than other models, making it a good choice for children.
- Power. A larger battery casing allows BTE devices to have the highest power of all hearing aids. For this reason, it is a good choice for those with severe hearing loss or those who have difficulty hearing high-frequency noises.
- Feedback control. Feedback is produced when the receiver and microphone of a hearing aid are too close together, causing sounds to “loop” through the device. In a BTE model, the receiver and microphone are further away from each other, preventing feedback even when the volume is turned up high.
- Customization options. As these devices are likely to be visible, many companies offer them in a range of colors to allow patients to customize their devices. Some companies even offer customizable ear molds to allow a better fit and clearer sound.
- Wireless capabilities. Increased power and space in the housing allows these devices to be outfitted with wireless options and Bluetooth capabilities, something many completely-in-the-canal devices lack. With a BTE device, you can hear people on the phone and have the sounds of your favorite TV shows piped directly into your hearing aid.
If you’re still not sure if a behind-the-ear hearing aid offers the most benefits to you, we recommend visiting our offices for a side-by-side comparison! Use our easy online contact form to schedule a visit with one of our hearing care professionals near you.