Behind the ear, also known as BTE, hearing aids are far and away the most commonly used type of hearing aid. These hearing aids are also what most people picture when hearing aids are mentioned. The electronics which make a BTE hearing aid function are housed in a plastic case which fits behind the ear and has a tube that connects it to an ear mold which fits in the ear canal.
They are designed to accommodate the entire spectrum of hearing losses, from the mild to the severe. Although they are more conspicuous then hearing aids that fit entirely in the ear canal, they have a number of benefits that appeal to a wide variety of hearing impaired individuals. In addition, BTE hearing aids come in a number of sizes, shapes and colors. So some behind the ear models are much less conspicuous then others.
Since behind the ear hearing aids are larger then their completely in the canal, or CIC, counterparts, they can more easily house a bigger amplifier and much stronger battery and therefore may be especially beneficial to individuals with a more severe hearing loss. BTE hearing aids are also rather versatile in that they come in the most traditional analog style as well as in the recently popularized digitally powered style of hearing aids.
When budgetary constraints are an issue, behind the ear devices definitely win out over hearing aids which fit completely in the ear canal. Due to their larger size, other groups of people to whom BTE hearing aids have more appeal then CIC models include the elderly, arthritis sufferers and others with fine motor control disabilities and related issues.
Finally since CIC models necessitate the wearing of a heavier device in the canal then just the lightweight ear mold attached to BTE hearing aids, there tends to be less ear canal irritation with the former.
In the late 1800s the first commercially manufactured hearing aids were patented and became available to the public. The first behind the ear hearing aids came on the scene over fifty years ago.
Prior to this, hearing aids were basically amplifiers worn somewhere on the body and these were heavy and expensive, due in part to rapid battery consumption. With the advent of the smaller junction transistor in 1952, widespread BTE hearing aid use became more of a reality.
Due to improvements in the technology of circuitry,1964 saw another boom in use of BTE devices and the use of body worn hearing aids dropped to less then twenty percent. By 1972 prototypes for hearing aids which could be programmed to a variety of listening situations, were being created. The following twenty years showed continued improvements and advances in hearing aid technology.
Volume controls were added to most behind the ear devices in the 1990s and digital hearing aids started appearing in the mid nineties. There has been continued new arrivals in the hearing aid world since then such as remanufactured hearing aids, disposable hearing aids and over the counter hearing aids. Who knows what the future of behind the ear hearing aid technology holds, the possibilities are endless