Just a few short years ago, behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids were not the style of choice for those who require hearing aids for improving their hearing. In fact, less than 20% 1 of people who wore hearing aids prior to 2000 chose the behind-the-ear style. Who could blame them? The old-style BTE’s were large, bulky and not very aesthetically pleasing to the eye. These issues enhanced the stigma that hearing loss is an old-person’s ailment and a handicap. Technology advancements have improved the number of BTE wearers to more than 60% 2 and with better, smaller choices, surveys indicate that more people with milder hearing losses are now benefiting from hearing aids1.
Along with having a smaller case size, today’s behind-the-ear hearing aids are more stylish and functionally versatile. The first miniature BTE wasn’t much to look at with very few case color choices. Although it was smaller than its ancestors were, it was very limited in terms of its offerings for user controls. In other words, it had very few bells and whistles. It was smaller for sure, which made it more aesthetically appealing, but the functionality limited how the wearer could manipulate sound in the environment. As the number of manufacturers who offer miniature BTE’s increases and the types of technology and sound processing available in the hearing aids expands, satisfaction with the BTE has improved. In fact, overall satisfaction ratings are significantly higher (85% vs 76%) than the traditional custom styles, even though there are no significant differences in perceived benefit or value1.
With technology advancements, behind-the-ear hearing aids are an exceptional choice for nearly anyone, no matter the degree of hearing loss or configuration. If you are experiencing hearing loss, whether you’ve worn hearing aids in the past or not, talk to your hearing healthcare provider about the new BTE to see if it is a good option for you.
1 Kochkin S: MarkeTrak VIII Mini-BTEs tap new market, usersmore satisfied. Hear J 2011:64(11):17-24
2 Kirkwood D: Resilient hearing aid industry records rising sales despite a troubled economy. Hear J 2009;62(12):11-16.