Behind the ear (BTE) hearing aids that sit behind the ear are the perfect stylish design of hearing aids. All the electronic components are tucked neatly in a shell or housing behind your ear and you can choose from a large range of sizes, shapes, and colors.
BTE hearing machines are connected to the custom earpiece place inside the ear canal through a clear plastic audible tube and sit behind your ears. These are the most used style of hearing aids, the ones which are suitable for almost all ages, from an elderly person to a child. All the electronics components are housed behind the ears.
These hearing devices include the speaker and microphone behind or on top of the outer ear, with tubing that routes sounds down into the ear. They are easily adjustable and have simple buttons to control volume and change program settings that suit your surroundings.
A behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aid hooks over the top of your ear and rests behind the ear. A tube connects the hearing aid to a custom earpiece called an earmold that fits in your ear canal.
Let’s cover the overall features and functions of Behind the ear (BTE) hearing aids.
Features of BTE hearing aids
With the BTE models, the sound is transmitted into the ear through a very discreet tube, which leads into a customized earmold. Because they are larger, BTE models have more space for electronic components than other types of hearing aids, giving them more room to house additional features and deliver advanced performance for a wider range of hearing loss types. Additionally, BTEs are comfortable, easy to mold, and easy for caretakers to assist with and maneuver.
BTE hearing aids shows the following features :
- Variety of color options available.
- For moderate to severe hearing loss and smaller ear canals.
- Easy-to-use buttons or dials. It is also easy to handle, insert and adjust.
- Discreet design
- Comfortable as it doesn’t sit deep inside your ear
- Doesn’t close off the whole ear gives a natural sound experience
- Provides the best amplification.
- Despite the size, they are rarely visible when people wear it.
- Larger batteries for longer battery life
- It is available in both wirelesses as well as in telecoil options.
- You can easily control volume and select programmes on most BTE’s.
These hearing aids are a lot sleeker and slimmer than they used to be giving you a very comfortable fit. The microphone element is the part that sits behind the ear and the receiver is connected via a thin, clear tube that is placed inside the ear that routes the sounds around you.
Types of BTE Hearing Aids
Following are the categories of BTE hearing aids :
Open – fit
These contain a thin plastic microtube that extends over the outer ear and into the ear canal. In addition to being small and cosmetically appealing, the open fit tube avoids the “stopped up” feeling of in-the-ear hearing aids.
Close – fit
These hearing aids use a fitted ear mold that fills the outer ear. Although they are larger than open fit hearing aids, closed fit BTEs are easier to handle because they seal the auditory canal, which minimizes the whistling sometimes experienced by hearing aid wearers.
External receiver model (receiver-in-canal, or RIC)
The smallest behind-the-ear models are equipped with external receivers and usually also offer wireless functions.
These hearing aids are smaller than normal BTE models and suitable for people with mild to severe hearing loss. They can be worn comfortably behind the ear and come in a wide range of colors, shapes, and styles.
BTE hearing aids come in three different styles which are as follows :
- Mini – Discrete but powerful hearing aid to blend in with your life. They are practically invisible when worn.
- Standard – This type has an advantage of delivering more power (gain) compare to other types of hearing aid.
- Power Features – Powerful technology so you can experience all the emotions of sound.
How do Behind the ear (BTE) hearing aids work?
The following are the components along with its functions of BTE hearing aids. Let’s discuss how the BTE hearing aid works.
Microphone – Picks up sounds and converts them into electrical signals. Dual microphones help to improve speech understanding in noise.
Amplifier – Increases the volume of the microphone signals and filters out irrelevant sounds
Loudspeaker – Converts electrical signals into acoustic signals
Speech processor – Adjusts signals to the wearer’s individual hearing needs
Volume regulator – It helps to control the volume.
Ear hook – Connects the hearing aid and the sound tube
Audio input – Picks up signals from other external devices
Disposable or rechargeable battery for the power supply – While disposable batteries can be changed several times, rechargeable batteries last for up to 24 hours with just one charge
Sound tube – The sound tube can either be 2mm diameter acoustic tubing channeled through a custom-made earmould or a discreet ‘thin-tube’ attached to an ear dome. It delivers sound into the ear.
Working of BTE hearing aids:
- It has a hard plastic case which is worn behind the ear and connected to a plastic earmold that fits inside the outer ear.
- The electronic parts of BTE hearing aids are held within the case behind the ear.
- Sound travels from the hearing aid through the earmold and into the ear.
- BTE aids are used by people of all ages for mild to profound hearing loss.
A variation on the classic BTE hearing aid is the external receiver model (receiver-in-canal, or RIC), in which the loudspeaker sits inside the ear, thus transmitting sound directly to the eardrum.
BTE hearing aids house either a size 10 (Yellow), size 312 (Brown) or size 13 (Orange) battery depending on the style and size selected. The typical lifespan of a size 10 battery is between 3-5 days, size 312 battery between 5-7 days and size 13 battery between 10-14 days but this can vary depending upon the number of hours per day the hearing aid is worn, the severity of hearing loss and the technology level of hearing aid.
We have made sure that we provide behind-the-ear style hearing aids that are sleek and slim and give you an extremely comfortable fit.
How much do BTE hearing aids cost?
Price of standard BTE open fit may vary as per different models and company. It ranges from approx. Rs.10500 per unit up to Rs. 250000 per unit.
Price of standard BTE may vary as per different models and company. It ranges from Approx. Rs.5750 per unit up to Rs. 250000 per unit.
As we know none of the hearing machines are perfect. They have certain limitations. Let’s have a look at the disadvantages of BTE hearing aids.
BTE Hearing aids limitations
- If you are facing manual dexterity or poor vision, then BTE hearing aid is not appropriate for you.
- You may experience a less natural and crisper sound quality than receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aids as the sound is being transmitted through a tube creating artificial peaks and troughs (tube resonances).
- These hearing aids are more visible than smaller models due to its large components.
- The hearing aids are more sensitive to wind and moisture.
- Condensation build-up inside the tubing can also affect sound quality and transmission. Moisture-free tubing can be useful but can slip out of the earmould easily and cause irritation to the side of the ear if makes contact due to its ‘rubbery’ texture.
- The tubing needs regular replacement as can become hard and brittle which affects sound quality and transmission.
- Due to the dead skin from behind the ear, the microphone is more susceptible to damage.
- The hearing aids may cause the loss of natural acoustics provided by the external ear (pinna) that help with localizing the direction of sound from in front and behind you.
- You need to hold telephone receiver in a slightly unnatural position over the top of the ear next to the hearing aid microphone.