Behind-the-Ear vs. In-the-Ear Hearing Aids

Behind-the-Ear vs. In-the-Ear Hearing Aids

Today’s hearing aids come in many shapes and sizes. Choosing a new hearing aid can be confusing, and it helps to know the differences between the styles. We’re going to take a look at the two main styles of hearing aid – Behind-the-Ear and In-the-Ear– and explain the pros and cons of each. 

Behind-the-Ear (BTE)

BTEs are the most traditional hearing aid, and they are trusted, affordable and reliable. They rest comfortably behind the ear. A thin tube hooks over the top of the ear and connects to a custom-made ear mold, which sits inside the ear canal.

There are two different kinds of ear molds – open fit and closed fit. The open fit style features a small soft tip that sits inside your auditory canal. As it doesn’t block the canal, air and sound can flow naturally to your eardrum, which many people find more comfortable. The close fit ear mold fills the inner ear, which means it is a larger earpiece, but much easier to handle.

Although BTEs are the largest hearing aids, contemporary designs are smaller and much more discreet than ever before. They come in a range of different colors to match hair color or skin tone.


·       BTEs are suitable for all age groups, including children, and cater for all kinds of hearing loss.

·       They can accommodate the largest batteries, for stronger amplification and a long-lasting battery life.

·       Their size makes them easy to handle, adjust and easy to clean, so they’re great for people with dexterity issues.

·       As there is distance between the microphone and the ear canal, there is less chance of feedback compared to smaller ITE hearing aids


 ·       Some people may find them unattractive or uncomfortable

·       For people who wear eyeglasses, the placement of BTE hearing aids may be inconvenient

·       As the hearing aid is situated outside the ear, it can pick up more wind noise

In-the-Ear (ITE)

ITE hearing aids include all kinds of hearing aids that fit into the ear, rather than behind it. As a result, they are less visible and more discreet.

There are several different kinds of styles:

The full shell ITE fills the inner bowl-shaped area of your outer ear.  A half shell ITE fills the lower part of the outer ear.

These are quite large devices, and so are easier to handle. They include quick adjustment features like volume control on the hearing aid body. They are suitable for mild to severe hearing loss, and come in a range of different colors.

In-the-Canal (ITC) aids are worn discreetly inside the ear canal, and are slightly visible from outside. Completely-in-the-canal (CIC) are worn completely within the ear and are “invisible” from outside.

These hearing aids are not compatible with some kinds of hearing loss, so check with your hearing care specialist to find out more.


·       They are small, discreet and sometimes even invisible

·       They are useful for people who wear glasses, as there is nothing resting on top of the ear


·       They are more expensive than BTE hearing aids

·       As they are smaller, the devices are more fiddly to handle and easier to lose

·       They use smaller batteries, which provide less power and need changing more regularly

·       As all electronic parts are in one small device, this can sometimes cause feedback problems.  

·       They can also make the user feel ‘blocked up’, which some people find unnatural

·       ITE aids also more susceptible to ear moisture and earwax build-up, and require more cleaning than BTE styles

·       They are not suitable for children

Which should you choose?

At Sound Hearing Group, our hearing specialists will be able to advise you on what styles of hearing aid are best for your kind of hearing loss. After that, the choice is up to you! You can check out this page to learn more about hearing aids styles and sizes

If you’d like to try some hearing aids out, get in touch with us today! Our hearing care specialists will be happy to discuss your needs and help you find the hearing aid that’s right for you. Call us at Sound Hearing Group today at 708-660-2350.