How to Insert and Remove Behind-the-Ear Hearing Aids
- Getting Familiar with BTE Hearing Aid Components
- Step-by-Step BTE Hearing Aid Insertion
- How to Remove BTE Hearing Aids
- How to Care for Your BTE Hearing Aids
- How to Get Used to Wearing BTE Hearing Aids
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids are one of the most common styles of hearing aids prescribed today. With the electronics and speakers encased in a plastic mold that sits behind the outer ear, BTE hearing aids deliver amplified sound through a clear tube into a custom ear tip placed inside the ear canal.
Proper insertion and removal of BTE hearing aids is key to ensuring they function optimally and remain undamaged. By following some simple steps and tips, you can easily handle your BTE hearing aids on a daily basis.
Getting Familiar with BTE Hearing Aid Components
BTE hearing aids have several main parts you should get to know:
- Microphone(s): Most BTEs have multiple microphones that pick up sounds from the environment.
- Amplifier: Boosts the microphone signals according to the user's hearing loss profile.
- Receiver (Speaker): Converts the amplified signals back into sounds and delivers them into the ear canal through the tubing and earpiece.
- Ear Hook: The curved part that connects the main body to the tubing and helps position the BTE securely behind the ear.
- Tubing: A clear plastic tube that transmits sound down to the custom ear mold or dome tip in the ear canal.
- Ear Mold/Dome: Custom ear molds enhance comfort and retention; dome tips are non-custom and can be used with thinner tubing for a less occlusive fit.
- Battery Compartment: Holds disposable or rechargeable batteries to power the device.
- Volume/Program Controls: Allow manual adjustment of volume levels and listening modes.
- On/Off Switch: Enables the user to turn the hearing aid on and off.
- Vent: Small opening that allows air & sound to pass through, reducing the occlusion effect.
- Telecoil: Coil that picks up signals from compatible phones and PA systems.
- Wireless Connectivity: Many models have wireless tech like Bluetooth to connect with smartphones, TVs, etc.
- DSP: Digital processing analyzes and optimizes sound.
Left and right hearing aids are programmed specifically for each ear. To identify them, color dots are placed inside the battery drawer - blue for left, red for right. Be sure to always insert the correct aid into each ear to get optimal results.
Step-by-Step BTE Hearing Aid Insertion
When wearing a BTE hearing aid, the ear tip-whether it's a custom earmold or a dome-is an essential part of comfort and sound transmission. It must be properly inserted into the ear canal for the hearing aid to work effectively. Follow these steps:
- Hold the hearing aid body in one hand, the tube and the ear tip in the other. Rest the body behind your ear with the speaker outlet pointed toward your ear canal.
- Grasp the tube close to the ear tip between your thumb and index finger. The ear tip should be pointed toward the opening of your ear canal.
- Carefully place the ear tip into the ear canal opening, then gently push it inward using a slight twisting motion. This allows it to navigate any bends in your ear canal.
- Push the ear tip inward until the tube lies flush against the side of your head and the aid feels secure behind your ear. Adjust as needed until properly seated.
Some additional tips can help insertion go smoothly:
- Gently pull up and back on your outer ear when inserting the ear tip. This straightens the ear canal.
- Rotate the ear tip forward slightly as you begin insertion. This matches the natural contour of the ear canal.
- Go slowly and do not force the ear tip. Stop if you feel strong resistance or pain.
If the hearing aid whistles, feels loose, or the amplified sound seems low, the ear tip may not be inserted correctly. Carefully remove it and try again. Ask your audiologist for help getting a proper fit.
How to Remove BTE Hearing Aids
Removing BTE hearing aids takes care to avoid damaging components:
- Reach behind your ear to grasp the tube near where it attaches to the ear tip.
- Gently pull the tube outward, slowly twisting it as you pull. This allows the ear tip to navigate the bends in your ear canal.
- Continue pulling until the ear tip is fully removed from your ear.
For ear tips that fit very snugly, use the small removal handle attached to the tube. Simply grab the handle and pull until the ear tip dislodges. Never yank or exert excessive force.
Once removed, inspect your aids for earwax or moisture buildup. Clean as needed per manufacturer instructions or audiologist recommendations. Open the battery drawer to allow ventilation and drying.
How to Care for Your BTE Hearing Aids
Regular maintenance keeps BTE hearing aids working their best:
- Keep aids dry. Protect them from moisture when bathing, exercising, and in humid environments. Use a dehumidifier drying kit.
- Clean ear tips daily of earwax and debris, which can block sound. Never use water or cleaning fluids on any components.
- Replace batteries when they become weak to maintain amplification power. Turn aids off when not in use to conserve battery life.
- Store aids in a protective case when not being worn to avoid damage.
- Visit your audiologist regularly for professional cleanings and to ensure optimal fit and function. Report any concerns immediately.
Following your audiologist's recommendations for BTE hearing aid care is key to ensuring safe daily use and long-term reliability.
How to Get Used to Wearing BTE Hearing Aids
Getting accustomed to wearing hearing aids for the first time can take patience and perseverance. Here are some tips to help you adjust:
- It's normal to feel initial discomfort, be aware of the ear tip in your canal, or notice amplified sounds. Give your brain time to adapt - usually a few weeks of consistent daily wear.
- Set reasonable expectations. You may not love them right away. Allow a period of adjustment and acclimation.
- Wear the aids for increasingly longer periods each day. Start with just a few hours and work up to all-day use.
- Begin by wearing them at home in quiet environments before venturing into noisy settings. Slowly increase the difficulty of listening environments.
- Advise friends and family you will need extra time and repetition to adjust to new sounds.
- Stick with it through frustration. The initial adaptation period is temporary but necessary. The benefits are well worth it.
- Stay motivated by focusing on goals like hearing your loved ones better or participating more at work.
- Keep follow-up appointments with your audiologist for adjustments and encouragement.
- Report any pain or irritation beyond the first month of use. This is not normal.
Adjusting to BTE aids takes diligence and time, but your brain will adapt. The rewards of better hearing and communication make pushing through the acclimation period worthwhile.
Inserting and removing BTE hearing aids properly is crucial for comfort, performance, and longevity. Follow the step-by-step instructions for your particular aid model and tips provided here to get off to the right start. With practice, it will become second nature.
Caring for your BTE aids according to manufacturer guidelines and seeing your audiologist regularly will keep them working their very best for many years. By taking the time to wear them consistently and adapt to amplified sounds, you'll soon be hearing your best!