Behind-the-ear hearing aids

Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids are housed in a small curved case that fits neatly behind or over your ear. A custom earmold is made to the exact shape of your ear. This earmold is inserted into the outer part of your ear and ear canal and is attached to the hearing aid by a short length of transparent tubing, which is used to direct the sound from the hearing aid into your ear.
 
There are different styles of BTE aid:
Some styles have a custom earmould, which is made to the exact shape of your ear. This earmould is inserted into the outer part of your ear and ear canal and is attached to the hearing aid by a short length of transparent tubing, which is used to direct the sound from the hearing aid into your ear.
Open ear fittings have an ultra thin tube with a 'dome' placed insde the ear.  This is attached to the hearing aid in place of a custom made earmould. They are only suitable for people who still have quite good hearing for low pitch sounds but up to moderate to severe loss for the high pitch sounds. Because the tube is thinner than with a custom earmould it is more cosmetically appealing and also helps reduce the occlusion effect (hearing echo of own voice). They can be easier to insert than a custom earmould for those with poor dexterity.
Receiver in the ear (RITE) BTEs have a clear tube with a wire inside.  This runs from the hearing aid to an earphone positioned with the dome in the ear.  Hearing aids of this type are often smaller because the receiver (a mechanical part of the hearing aid) sits inside the ear at the end of the wire, enabling the hearing aid itself to be smaller.  Different manufacturers use their own terms (RIC, CRT, LITE) to describe hearing aids of this type - but they are all essentially similar.  Different RITE hearing aids are available for different losses, and some are suitable for up to severe and borderline profound losses if they are used in conjunction with a custom earmould. Like open ear fittings, they can be easier to insert than a custom earmould for those with poor dexterity.  These RITE style hearing aids are not currently available on the NHS
 
 
        
A digital BTE (Behind The Ear) hearing aid (Image © RNID)
 
 
 
BTE hearing aids are the standard type provided by the NHS and are suitable for people with a wide range of hearing losses and can be used by people of all ages – including infants/children.

 Advantages:

• Durable - sits behind the ear therefore less likely to be damaged than in-the-ear types of hearing aid

• Easy to use in conjunction with assistive listening devices

 

Disadvantages:

• Not the most discreet style of hearing aid - larger models rest visibly behind the ear.

• A poorly fitted earmould can cause acoustic feedback.

 

  Back to "Types of hearing aids available"