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BTE and ITE: A Quick Guide to Hearing Aid Types

There are two types of hearing aids: behind-the-ear and in-the-ear. Read on for the pros and cons of each type and learn how to choose the best one for you.
Comprehensive Hearing Solutions BTE & ITE Hearing Aid Types

Generally speaking, there are two types of hearing aids—behind-the-ear (BTE) and in-the-ear (ITE). While neither is better, they each have pros and cons. The “best hearing aid” depends on personal factors like the degree of hearing loss, your lifestyle, and your cosmetic preferences. 


Hearing aids are an essential part of aural rehabilitation. If you have hearing loss, we need to amplify the sounds you’re missing so you can hear them again. We call this process “restoring audibility.” 

Read on to learn more about hearing aid types, and find out which one can meet your needs.

Behind-the-Ear Hearing Aids


Behind-the-ear hearing aids are the most common type of hearing aid you’ll see worn. Most BTE hearing aid components reside in a unit that sits on top and slightly behind the ear. The receiver can be in the unit with the rest of the parts and use clear tubing to transmit sound to the ear canal. Or the receiver is placed directly in the ear canal and connected to the hearing aid with a wire. 


There are a few myths that surround BTEs. For example, some believe BTEs are more susceptible to rainwater damage due to their position behind the ear. However, this simply isn’t true. While most hearing aids aren’t waterproof, they are water resistant. So a little rain won’t hurt them, but don’t wear them in the pool or the tub.


BTE Pros

  • They’re suitable for all degrees of hearing loss. 
  • They have more flexibility in fittings because of our control over how the hearing aid couples to the ear.
  • Advanced processing, connectivity features, and rechargeability are standard in these models. 
  • Some repairs can quickly be done in-office, so there’s less chance they’ll need to be sent to the manufacturer.
  • Since BTEs aren’t custom-built, they take less time to order, service, and repair if they do have to go out for servicing.

BTE Cons

  • They’re more likely to be seen since they sit atop the ear. 
  • They may be problematic for those who regularly wear glasses, face masks, or tubing for oxygen. 
  • They could be difficult to insert in the ear for some users.


In-the-Ear Hearing Aids

In-the-ear hearing aids are the type of hearing aid with all components sitting in a shell entirely in the ear. This hearing aid type is often custom-built using an ear impression, but some ready-wear models are available. Several different kinds of ITEs exist, and they vary in size depending on your needs. For instance, if you don’t require Bluetooth or wireless connectivity, they can be made to be nearly invisible to the naked eye. However, suppose you want Bluetooth connectivity in an ITE hearing aid. In that case, the hearing aid must be bigger to accommodate the extra hardware needed.


There is a common misconception that ITEs are more expensive than BTEs, thanks to their custom fit. However, both types of hearing aids are generally comparable in price. It’s also important to note that ITEs aren’t suitable for all hearing needs, including those with normal low-frequency hearing. 


ITE Pros

  • They can be made to be almost invisible, making them ideal for those with cosmetic concerns. 
  • They may appeal to people with a lot of hardware on top of their ears.
  • They utilize the natural hearing abilities of the outer ear and rely less heavily on directional sound processing.
  • ITEs can be easier to insert in your ear than BTEs. So if you have dexterity issues or arthritis in your hands, it could be easier to use ITEs.

ITE Cons

  • They aren’t appropriate for all hearing losses, specifically those with relatively normal low-frequency hearing.
  • They may take longer to build if they are custom-made.
  • Since all the hearing aid components are inside a shell, there isn’t much we can do to repair them if they need more servicing outside the routine clean and check. They’ll likely need to be sent to the manufacturer for repairs; if it’s a custom-made product, it could take several weeks to repair.
  • The more features they have, like Bluetooth and wireless connectivity, the larger the hearing aid needs to be to accommodate the additional hardware required. The larger they are, the more likely they are to be seen.


Need Help Choosing the Right Hearing Aid?


Comprehensive Hearing Solutions is the expert audiologist and hearing aid dispenser for residents of South Louisiana. Schedule an appointment today to find the best hearing aid for you. 

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