Behind The Ear or BTE hearing aids have been around for a very long time. In the recent past, they have got smaller, more versatile and more powerful. Let’s talk about BTE hearing aids.
Behind The Ear Hearing Aids (BTE)
- What is a BTE Hearing Aid
- How do BTEs work?
- What hearing losses do BTE hearing aids cater for?
- What are the different types of BTE hearing aids
- What BTE hearing aids have Bluetooth?
- Can you shower with a behind the ear hearing aid?
- What are the advantages of BTE hearing devices?
- What are the disadvantages of BTE hearing devices?
There are three major main types of hearing aid: Behind The Ear (BTE), In The Ear (ITE) and Receiver In Canal. Each has their own set of advantages and disadvantages. If you are thinking of buying a hearing aid, it is worth spending some time thinking about which type would be best for you. Ideally, you should visit an audiologist or aid vendor who will give you a hearing assessment and advice on which aids would be most suitable for you. Modern BTEs are a far cry from traditional hearing aids, today’s behind the ear hearing aids are smaller and more discreet than ever before. This style of hearing device is available in many different shapes and colours and over recent years, they have gotten much smaller than they once were. They are hugely versatile devices and they will fit nearly every hearing loss.
What is a behind the ear hearing aid
Behind the ear hearing aids have a main shell section, an earmold and a connecting tube. The main shell houses all of the electronics and the battery. The BTE hearing aid hooks over the top of your ear and rests behind the ear. Traditionally a plastic tube connects the hearing aid to a custom earpiece called an earmold that fits in your ear. More recently many of the hearing aid brands have introduced thin tubing, (thin plastic tubing) which connects BTEs to the ear. Thin tubing can be used with a generic dome or a custom tip. Thin tubing is very discreet but it is not suitable for all hearing losses.
How do behind the ear hearing aids work?
A hearing aid has three basic parts: a microphone, amplifier, and speaker. The hearing aid receives sound through a microphone, which converts the sound waves to electrical signals and sends them to an amplifier. The amplifier increases the power of the signals and then sends them to the ear through a speaker. All of these components are within the shell of the BTE which sits on your ear. The sound is transferred to your ear through a tube and earmould or tip.
What hearing losses do BTE hearing aids cater for?
BTEs are exceptionally versatile and they cater for all hearing losses from mild all the way to severe to profound.
What are the different types of BTE hearing aids
Generally, there are four types of behind the ear hearing aids, Mini BTEs, Standard BTEs, Power BTEs and Superpower BTEs. Normally the manufacturers will make different styles for differing losses although with the advances in hearing aid technology that has changed a little. Traditionally there would be:
- Mini BTE: Very small and discreet BTE that would generally cover mild to moderate/severe hearing losses. These types of hearing aid are often fitted with thin tubes.
- Standard BTE: Slightly larger than the MINI and would usually have more options such as a Tele-coil, a programme button and perhaps a volume control. This BTE would be good for mild to severe hearing losses. These types of hearing aid can be fitted with traditional or thin tubes.
- Power BTE: This device would be designed to cover severe hearing losses. They will nearly always come with a programme button, volume control, Tele-coil and usually the ability to use FM systems. These types of hearing aid are normally fitted with traditional tubes and earmoulds.
- Superpower BTE: This device is for profound hearing loss. Even the superpower devices have become quite small in comparison to the older styles. Again, these would be fully loaded with programme button, volume control, Tele-coil and the ability to connect to FM systems. These types of hearing aid are fitted with traditional tubes and earmoulds.
What BTE hearing aids have Bluetooth?
Most modern BTEs are Bluetooth hearing aids, even if they need to use an intermediary streamer. There are also direct connection, or so-called Made For iPhone BTE hearing devices. Made for iPhone BTE hearing aids include:
- Signia Motion 13 Nx BTE Hearing Aids
- Signia Motion 13 P Nx BTE Hearing Aids
- Signia Motion Charge N Go Nx
- Resound LiNX 67 BTE Hearing Aids
- Resound LiNX 77 BTE Hearing Aids
- Resound LiNX 88 BTE Hearing Aids
- Resound Enzo ET-88 BTE Hearing Aids
- Resound Enzo ET-98 BTE Hearing Aids
- Oticon BTE 13 PP
Can you shower with a behind the ear hearing aid?
Most modern BTEs are rated waterproof, however, it’s best to remove your hearing aid from your ear before showering, bathing or swimming. While they are graded waterproof most hearing aid brands envisage that being tested by rain showers, not necessarily you scuba diving. So, you can get those hearing aids wet. However, why take the chance of something going wrong.
What are the advantages of BTE hearing devices?
We believe that BTE hearing aids are some of the best hearing aid types around for several reasons, the advantages are:
- Strong control: BTE hearing aids are usually fully functional devices that offer superior user control options.
- Tele-coil: Nearly all BTE devices except for some of the Mini BTEs come with a Tele-coil.
- Extremely reliable hearing aids: BTE hearing aids are some of the most reliable hearing aids around and tend to keep working for a very long time
- Easy to handle: BTE hearing aids are pretty easy to handle and because they come in a host of different battery options there is nearly always one that you can use even if you have limited dexterity.
BTE hearing aids nearly always have a full load of hardware including volume controls, programme buttons, and telecoils. The telecoil is a useful addition if you want access to loop systems in public buildings like churches, conference centres, the post office. In fact, many taxis in London are fitted with loop systems. Even though wireless communication systems in hearing aids is now the norm, the telecoil is still a good thing to have. The only issues that occur in relation to it are how well the loop system is working or how well it has been fitted.
Extremely Reliable Hearing Aids
BTE hearing aids are probably the most reliable of hearing aids, they very seldom fail. Because all of the components are encased in the hearing aid and the hearing aid is worn at the back of the ear, very little or no wax or moisture can get at them. When something goes wrong with a BTE it tends to be either the physical controls or the microphones. Nearly all of the manufacturers have introduced new types of microphone covers that almost completely enclose the microphones. So even microphone failure may be a thing of the past.
Easy To Use
BTE hearing aids tend to be easy to handle and place in the ear, so for people with dexterity or vision issues, they are a good choice.
What are the disadvantages of BTE hearing devices?
I have thought about this long and hard for quite a while and I don’t really see any disadvantages. Discretion might be an issue for some, but even that isn’t as true as it once was. A small BTE with a thin tube is a very discreet hearing aid to wear. It would be almost as discreet as many of the RIC / RITE devices. Even the larger BTEs are a lot more discreet than they once were. The other issue is that you wear it over your ear, for some with glasses that is an irritant, but I wouldn’t call it a disadvantage.
What are the contra-indications to wearing BTEs?
I am stuck for any contra-indications to wearing a BTE apart from the obvious that you have no ear really.