How We Chose the Best BTE Hearing Aids
Choosing the right pair of hearing aids is an important decision, as they’re something you’ll wear every single day. We narrowed down the search by comparing popular BTE hearing aids side by side and evaluating them based on several criteria. We considered factors like comfort, affordability, size, performance, and cost.
What Are BTE Hearing Aids?
As you might’ve guessed, BTE hearing aids sit behind your ears. More specifically, the electrical components housed inside a case sit on your outer ear. This includes the speaker, microphone, amplifier, battery, and other features like a telecoil. A small tube (also called an ear hook) connects the hearing aid to a dome or earmold that sits in your ear canal. The tube delivers sound into your ear.
BTE hearing aids provide the best amplification, so they work great for people of all ages who have mild, moderate, severe, or profound hearing loss. They’re also larger than other styles of hearing aids, so there’s more room for electrical components. That’s why many BTE hearing aids offer advanced features like Bluetooth streaming. Most BTE hearing aids feature control buttons directly on the case for easy volume or programming adjustments. We’d recommend BTE hearing aids for:
- Seniors with severe to profound hearing loss
- Those with dexterity problems who would benefit from a larger device
- Older adults with caregivers, as they’re easier for caregivers to assist with
- Individuals who produce a lot of earwax
Pros About BTE Hearing Aids
- Available with personalized ear molds
- Provide the most amplification
- Easy to put on, take off, and clean
- On-device controls for simple volume adjustment
- Not as susceptible to earwax buildup as other styles
- More comfortable, as they don’t sit deep in the ear canal
- Tend to have longer battery life than other styles
Cons About BTE Hearing Aids
- May be awkward to use while on the phone; selecting a model with Bluetooth streaming can alleviate this concern
- More sensitive to wind than other styles
- Share earspace with glasses, sunglasses, and masks, which may be bothersome to some seniors
- Not as discreet as other styles
BTE vs. ITE Hearing Aids
There are two main types of hearing aids: BTE and in the ear (ITE). Understanding the difference between the two can help you decide what may work best for your situation.
What Are ITE Hearing Aids?
ITE aids sit fully in your ear without taking up any space on or behind your ear. For that reason, an ITE hearing aid is more comfortable if you wear glasses or frequently wear a face mask. You can use a phone more naturally and wear over-ear headphones too.
Compared to BTE models, ITE hearing aids are more discreet. Most are custom fit to your ear canal for a snug, comfortable fit. They’re even available in a variety of skin tones to blend in with your ear.
Since they must sit in your ear, ITE hearing aids have limited space. They don’t have room for all of the features you may find with BTE hearing aids, such as Bluetooth connectivity or large, long-lasting batteries. Some older adults might have trouble handling them due to their small size.
Comparing Hearing Aid Styles
|Type of hearing loss
|For mild to profound hearing loss
|For mild to severe hearing loss
|Bigger; can be clunky
|Small; often custom fit
|Tend to last longer
|More susceptible to earwax damage
|Can accommodate larger, longer-lasting batteries
|Less reliable; batteries need to be charged or replaced more frequently
|Space for more electrical components and features, such as Bluetooth