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Meet the Various Styles of Behind-the-Ear Hearing Aids

Behind-the-ear devices offer comfortable fits and significant hearing improvementsThe first choice you will have to make when buying new hearing aids is whether you want an in-the-ear model or a style that sits behind the ear. Each model offers advantages and disadvantages to wearers, and your hearing aid specialist will help you choose the best style for you. Whether you ultimately choose a behind-the-ear hearing aid style because of the ease and comfort it offers or because of the severity of your hearing loss, the exact model you choose can offer a variety of features to help you participate in your favorite activities.

Overview of Behind-the-Ear Hearing Aid Models

The behind-the-ear, or BTE, hearing aid model sits behind or on top of the outer ear with tubing that routes the sound down into the ear canal via a custom-fit earmold or smaller ear piece that doesn’t block the entire ear canal opening. BTE hearing aids come in a variety of colors to match skin tone or hair color and can also be ordered in fun colors for the wearer who wants to make a statement. In general, BTE models are larger than in-the-ear models and can therefore accommodate longer-lasting batteries, more features, and easier access to adjustment buttons and dials.

Mini to Full-Sized: BTE Options

Within the BTE category of hearing aids, there are several choices to make, from very small to larger and easier to manage. The best style for you will depend on your lifestyle and the features you need to do the things you want to do.

  • Mini BTE. The smallest BTE device, mini styles are designed to be hidden behind the outer ear. They have ultra-thin tubing running from the hearing aid to a soft tip that sits in the ear canal but does not completely block the opening. Wearers experience a natural, open feeling as airflow and sound can still enter the ear canal while amplified sound enters through the soft tip. This style is recommended for people with mild to moderate high frequency hearing loss. The fit and feel are so popular that manufacturers are beginning to offer models with larger ear pieces to accommodate greater degrees of hearing loss. Once disadvantage to this small model is that it can be hard for people with less dexterity to adjust.
  • BTE with receiver in the ear or in the ear canal. These models differ from other BTE models because the receiver, or speaker portion of the hearing aid, is built into the piece that sits in the ear or ear canal, rather than in the piece that sits behind the ear. A receiver in the ear (RITE) or receiver in the canal (RIC) model offers the open-fit feeling and cosmetic appeal of other small hearing aids, but it can be hard to adjust and it is susceptible to moisture damage. If the speaker is damaged, however, it can easily be replaced in your hearing care professional’s office rather than being returned to the manufacturer for repair like other models.
  • BET with earmold. BTE styles that come with earmolds can correct any type of hearing loss, from mild to profound. The part of the device that fits behind the ear is larger than other models and can allow for more features, controls, and power than any other style of hearing aid. This model is very durable because the sensitive electrical components rest behind the ear and are not usually exposed to moisture and debris. The pieces of this model can be easily cleaned and maintained and generally require fewer repairs than mini, RITE, or RIC models. This style is frequently used for children because of its durability and ease of readjustment as the child grows. The main disadvantages are the plugged-up feeling wearers sometimes report and the difficulty of wearing glasses with them.

We Can Help You Find the Best Hearing Aid for You

The hearing care professionals at True Sound Hearing Aid Center can discuss and demonstrate these options in our office and help you make the choice that is right for you. We are committed to helping you live your best life with hearing loss. Schedule a free evaluation now.