Header Top

Utah: 435-688-8991 | Nevada: 702-896-0031
Utah: 435-688-8991 Nevada: 702-896-0031

In-The-Ear Hearing Aids VS Behind-The-Ear Hearing Aids (ITE VS BTE)


If you have been doing some preliminary research on hearing aids, it is easy to become overwhelmed with the acronyms and features available. A hearing aid guide can be helpful during this process, but sometimes it’s best to start with the basics—available styles of hearing aids and what they do.

Two Basic Hearing Aid Styles: Behind-The-Ear (BTE) & In-The-Ear (ITE)

When it comes right down to it, there are two basic styles of hearing aids—ones where the main body of the device is in your ear and hearing aids where the main body sits behind the ear.

With hearing aids that sit inside of your ears, these devices are called In-The-Ear (ITE) hearing aids. There are some further breakdowns within the ITE category, which we will go into below, but basically, these are the hearing aids that most people think of when they want an invisible or very low-profile hearing aid.

On the other side of things, if you are looking for a powerful hearing aid that you can easily handle, Behind-The-Ear (BTE) hearing aids may be what you are looking to bring home. There are a few variations with the hearing aids that rest behind your ear and depending on the variation, they can be just as invisible as hearing aids that you place in your ears.

Our audiologists here at Hearing & Balance Doctors have fit hundreds of people with both ITE and BTE hearing aids. So, no matter what type you end up interested in, they can help you.

Different BTE Hearing Aid Styles Pros & Cons

BTE Hearing Aid Styles
There are two basic BTE-style hearing aids—the standard Behind-The-Ear style that often ends in an earmold and Receiver-In-Canal (RIC), which is similar to the BTE except that instead of an earmold, the hearing aid receiver sits inside of your ear canal. These two styles also can come in mini sizes, depending on the manufacturer.

Behind-The-Ear (BTE) Pros & Cons

Generally, BTE hearing aids are the largest style of hearing aids. While the larger size may not appeal to everyone, these larger hearing aids can also contain more of the latest hearing aid technology. Often, having things like wireless Bluetooth streaming, tinnitus management, and other conveniences is enough for those who choose BTE hearing aids.


  • Accommodate hearing loss ranging from mild to profound
  • Can be fitted with a custom earmold
  • Less likely to become moisture-damaged
  • Easy to handle thanks to large size
  • Latest tech often compatible with this style of hearing aids


  • Not a discreet style of hearing aid
  • Can cause occlusion (plugged up feeling)
  • May get in the way of hats, glasses, and other types of headgear.

Receiver-In-Canal (RIC) Pros & Cons

Usually a little smaller than the BTE style of hearing aids, RIC hearing aids combine power with an open fit. The open fit is accomplished with the dome that many of the RIC style hearing aids come with, which is designed to allow air to move more freely while amplifying sound. That way, you don’t get the same feelings of occlusion that occurs with other models of hearing aids.


  • Can accommodate most levels of hearing loss ranging from mild to severe
  • Often the only style of hearing aids that are rechargeable
  • The ear dome can be easily replaced
  • Comes in mini size


  • Ear dome and speaker are more susceptible to moisture damage
  • Still a visible style of hearing aid
  • Smaller RIC hearing aids can be hard for those with dexterity issues

Available ITE Hearing Aid Styles Pros & Cons

ITE Hearing Aid Styles
Many people find the ITE style of hearing aids very appealing due to their small and discreet size. There are variations within the ITE hearing aids, but overall, they are low-profile and can work with many different levels of hearing loss.

In-The-Ear (ITE) Pros & Cons

Largest of the ITE style hearing aids, the ITE hearing aids often take up the entire shell of your outer ear, though there are half-shell designs available. The ITE style of hearing aids is often big enough to have a good range of hearing aid technology, such as wireless connectivity and tinnitus management.


  • More easily accessible controls like a volume wheel
  • Large size makes the ITE hearing aids easy to handle
  • Has room for a greater amount of tech
  • Can accommodate hearing loss ranging from mild to moderately-severe


  • Still a fairly visible style of hearing aid
  • Can cause feelings of occlusion (plugged up feeling)

In-The-Canal (ITC) Pros & Cons

This type of hearing aid sits more in the ear canal, which gives it the name of In-The-Canal (ITC), making it far less visible. However, the reduction in size does restrict this type of hearing aid ability to help with hearing loss.


  • Most discreet/invisible type of hearing aids
  • Good for mild-to-moderate hearing loss
  • All major hearing aid brands offer these hearing aids


  • Can cause feelings of occlusion (plugged up feeling)
  • Both types are very small and can be difficult to handle
  • Susceptible to moisture damage

Completely-In-Canal/Invisible-In-Canal (CIC/IIC) Pros & Cons

Highly popular styles are the Completely-In-Canal and Invisible-In-Canal (CIC/IIC) hearing aid styles. They are the most invisible styles of hearing aids and often cannot be seen by others when worn, as they sit deeper in the ear canal.


  • Most discreet/invisible type of hearing aids
  • Good for mild-to-moderate hearing loss
  • All major hearing aid brands offer these hearing aids


  • Can cause feelings of occlusion (plugged up feeling)
  • Both types are very small and can be difficult to handle
  • Susceptible to moisture damage

Which Hearing Aid Style Is Right For You

Now that you have a better idea of what styles of hearing aids are available, it is far easier for you to determine what hearing aid style is right for you. Our doctors of audiology will help you during your visit with us, but to help you feel more prepared, consider the factors that influence your hearing aid options.

Level Of Hearing Loss

Not all hearing aids are suitable for all levels of hearing loss. If you have mild hearing loss, you generally can choose any hearing aids, as all hearing aid styles can accommodate mild hearing loss. However, if your hearing loss is moderately-severe or higher, most ITE hearing aid styles will not work for you.

Also, the frequency of your hearing loss will influence what hearing aid style is best for you. Many people struggle with high-frequency hearing loss, and some of the smaller hearing aids are capable of capturing the needed frequency range.

Dexterity/Ease Of Use

Handling hearing aids can be difficult if you struggle with dexterity. The mini-BTE hearing aids and most of the ITE style hearing aids are not ideal choices, as they are small and have tiny parts that need regular cleaning.

Instead, the regular BTE or RIC style of hearing aids may be best, as they are larger, easier to handle, and can be rechargeable, making it easy to keep them powered up.

Personal Preferences

Your preferences play a significant role in what hearing aids are best for you. For example, some people feel self-conscious when it comes to wearing hearing aids. So, by choosing one of the more invisible ITE styles of hearing aids, they can enjoy the benefits of better hearing without noticeable hearing aids.

Lifestyle Considerations

Depending on your profession and hobbies, different styles of hearing aids may be more appropriate for you. There are some hearing aids that are more unobtrusive for those who need their hearing aids out of the way, as well as hearing aids that are more water-resistant than others. Be sure to discuss your lifestyle needs with our doctors of audiology so that they can make the best recommendations for you.

Prior Experiences

If you have had hearing aids before, your experiences can be invaluable when choosing new hearing aids. For instance, if there was a style of hearing aid that made you feel plugged up or uncomfortable, our audiologists can recommend different styles for you to try out at our office.

Also, ITE hearing aids are custom-made to fit your ear appropriately, so if the fit was an issue, you may prefer a custom hearing aid.

To help you find the right hearing aids for your hearing needs, you can count on our doctors of audiology here at Hearing & Balance Doctors. If you would like personalized help on your hearing journey, contact us today to set up your appointment.

Speak Your Mind