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What are BTE hearing aids and how popular are they?

According to data from the Hearing Instruments Association (HIA), over 60% of hearing aids sold in the United States aren behind the ear (BTE) hearing aids.

Thanks to digital technology being utilized in hearing aids, BTE hearing aids have gradually become smaller in design and size throughout the years. These once big and clumsy hearing aids are now small, discrete and stylish hearing aids that sit nestled behind the ear (also called the pinna).

The smaller designs allow BTE hearing aids to be more cosmetically appealing than custom in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids, which has contributed to the increase in popularity.

Open Ear Hearing Aids

The popularity of BTE hearing aids is also most likely due to the use of open ear hearing aid technology.

Open ear hearing aids are mini BTE hearing aids that are designed to hide behind the outer ear, and have thin plastic tubing to discreetly route sound into the ear. The tubing connects to a soft tip that sits in the ear canal but doesn’t block the ear canal like traditional earmolds. The result is a natural, open feeling as airflow and sound are still allowed to enter the ear naturally, while amplified sound enters through the tip. This is often referred to as an “open fitting”.

Open ear BTE hearing aids are designed for persons with mild to moderately-severe hearing loss, while BTE hearing aids with traditional earmolds are able to accommodate mild to profound hearing loss.

Success with BTE hearing aids

In regards to acoustic performance and fitting results, BTE hearing aids are not necessarily better than custom ITE hearing aids. Both hearing aid styles provide the amount of amplification needed for each individual hearing loss and perform similarly in regards to features and sound quality.

The increased popularity of BTE hearing aids may be an indication of increased customer satisfaction, especially with open ear BTE hearing aids. The physical comfort, natural sound quality, and cosmetically appealing designs of open ear BTE hearing aids are benefits for both first-time and existing hearing aid wearers”


Rogin, C. (2009, October 13). Top Ten Reasons for Hearing Aid Delight AudiologyOnline, Recorded Course 14615. Retrieved October 31,2009, from the e-Learning section on http://www.audiologyonline.com

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