One of the most common hearing aid styles, behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids are designed to firmly sit behind one or both ears.
The BTE hearing aid component with the battery and settings fits outside of the ear while a custom earpiece molded to the shape of the ear that provides the necessary amplification rests in the ear canal.
If you think you may benefit from a BTE hearing aid, you’ll need to visit an audiologist for a hearing aid evaluation to determine if this particular audio assistance device may be right for your needs and lifestyle.
The first step in a BTE hearing aid evaluation is to test your hearing. This process typically includes a series of tests to evaluate your response to different tones. You may be asked to repeat words or sentences to get a better feel for your speech recognition needs. Some tests look at how your auditory nerve responds to stimulation. Results from all of your tests are often compared graphically with an audiogram to see what sounds you may be missing. An audiologist sometimes uses an instrument called an otoscope to view inside of your ears. One of the appealing benefits of BTE hearing aids is that they can help patients with just about any type of hearing loss.
Hearing Loss and General Health History
If you have problems with your vision or manual dexterity, BTE models may not be appropriate. This is why part of the hearing aid evaluation process includes a review of your overall health and your history with hearing loss. You may be asked about how well you are managing underlying health conditions that may affect hearing, such as kidney disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. To get a better feel for what type of features you’ll likely need in your BTE hearing aid, you may be evaluated for:
- Vertigo or dizziness
- Persistent ear ringing (tinnitus)
- Hearing-related diseases
- Ear infections or ear pain
In order to see if you are a good candidate for a hearing aid and to determine how to adjust settings if you are, your hearing will be tested. Such tests asses your ability to hear certain tones and ranges of sound. A hearing evaluation may involve visually examining your ears with an otoscope, air and bone conduction testing, and word discrimination testing. The results, usually presented graphically as an audiogram, will show which sounds you are hearing just fine and which sounds you are missing.
Hearing Aid Fitting and Adjustment
The final step in the process is to use the results of the hearing aid evaluation to select an appropriate device if it’s determined you’ll likely benefit from a hearing aid. Your hearing aid will be specifically designed for the shape of your ear. It will also be adjusted based on the audiogram results to address your particular hearing loss issues. Special software is used to adjust settings. An audiologist can also answer your questions and demonstrate how to correctly insert and remove your hearing aid(s).
Many patients are under the assumption that one hearing aid can work just as well as two devices. While this may be true under certain circumstances, there are advantages to having both ears evaluated for hearing aids, such as a better balance of hearing and improved comprehension in various environments. Keep in mind that adjustments can be made if there are some situations where you’re still not able to hear as well as you would like to.