BTE or ITE?

I’ve used ITE aids now for about 20 years and am getting new aids very soon. My audiologist has recommended for me to continue with ITE since I’m use to them. But a few of my friends say I should go to BTE. She has recommended high end Oticon brand because I did not do well on the word test in the left ear, only 45%. I’m 77 now.
Advice on how to proceed is appreciated.

You’ll get more bang for the buck with BTE, more features, probably require fewer repairs because of less exposure to moisture in the ear, and I don’t know how your dexterity is, being 77. But they are easier to put in and take out. I always hesitated going with the BTE because they were a lot more apparent but they are much smaller now and come in different colors. My progressive loss pretty much decided for me, but now I would never go back. I vote for BTE.

Why does your audi suggest ITE’s? Just because you have used them in the past? There may be other reasons.

BTE models have several advantages over custom mold models as Hask12 has stated. They seem to work fine for a wide range of hearing losses. RIC’s work for nearly any loss and since you are used to having a mold in your canal, they should work for you just fine depending on your audiogram.

Also, BTE’s can be switched with another one should you want to try out another one. If your present one (i.e.BTE) should need to be sent away for repair you can switch for a loaner from the store which is sending your unit out for repair so you should never be in a situation where you are without one. The loaner of course will have to be programmed to suit your loss but that only takes a few minutes.

Ask your audiologist to let you try the Oticon Agil Pro (premium level) mini RITE. It’s a BTE with the thin wire that goes down into the canal. The wire is the receiver and there are three power levels: standard, medium, or power. He/she will pick the power level based on your degree of hearing loss. Also, there are different types of “molds” that attach to the end of the receiver and fit in your ear canal. The type of mold is also based on the degree of your hearing loss. The nice thing about this style aid is it should cost the same as the Oticon Agil Pro ITE but if your hearing loss gets worse in the future the audiologist can switch to a higher power receiver and adjust the hearing aids for your ear. Also, there might not be less breakdowns with this style BTE (as compared to an ITE) but there are more that can be done in your Audiologist’s office and will avoid sending the aid out for repair.

I wore one ITE (CIC) aid for two years and the second one for 3 months before switching to a BTE RIC. The good news is, they work fine and I can hear great with these so far (two months). But, there is a difference in how they feel and operate.

There is no feeling of something hanging on my ear but the part that goes in the ear has not settled yet. I think the fit of a dome is hit and miss and mine is mostly miss. I go back today to talk about another dome or a custom mold. It is still pretty comfortable, even though I know it doesn’t fit exactly “right”.

Telephone use is the big problem with BTE hearing aids. The tiny new ones don’t have a t-coil. If I hold the phone up to my ear normally I am not only using only my natural hearing (not good) but there is also some hardware in there that is restricting the incoming sound somewhat, so the result is worse hearing on the phone than without an aid. Remember the microphone for a BTE aid is “BTE”.

Most major brands have a bluetooth phone option but it involves another device that you hold, hang around your neck, or clip to your shirt or lapel. You would have to be committed to learning a bit of the technology details in order to have a good experience using the phone. Look up Siemens TEK (minitek coming by summer), Bernafon or Oticon Streamer, Phonak icom, or Resound Phone Clip for some ideas.

If your natural hearing is good enough for phone use even with the BTE receiver in your ear then you may not need the bluetooth device.

My decision making between the two styles falls like this:

Open fit possible, bluetooth agreeable? Then go with BTE RIC (most comfortable, lots of features)

Open fit with normal phone useage? Go with a BTE with a t-coil

Closed fit, mold required that is occluding? Might as well just go with a CIC

My reasoning for the CIC is that if you have to have a custom mold that is closed and occluding you might as well have all of it within the ear canal.

I’ve worn ITE full shells for 16 years and was happy to try the BTEs UNTIL because of the fall weather (cool but humid) they immediately started giving me battery alerts and shutting down. I found that sweat was siphoning into the battery compartment and getting on the air holes so starving the battery of air and shutting down the aids. So couldn’t wear them in the yard, in the gym, basically instant shutdown with sweating. I have gone back to ITE style because functionality is much more important than invisibility. There are “raincoats” available, but they are a bit more fussing, noise, visibility, etc. The new electronics makes feedback when using an acoustic phone a thing of the past, the ITE works very well for me and my old Siemens ITEs have been refurbished and are my spares in case the new Phonaks need service. I never had a hardware issue with the Siemens in 16 years without using a drying machine. Take them out of my ear for the night and place them on the dresser. All of the bells and whistles are available in either form factor, and I have them all but the ITEs with feedback blocking and wind blocker and zoom are great. I may be the lone dissenter, but I scream ITEs.

Good luck,
TerryB

I am 77 and have benefited from the use of ITE aids (Widex and Oticon) for approx 15 years. A reduction in hearing in the known problem areas; soft spoken people, inside moving vehicles,noisy restaurants etc. obliged me to try to find better solutions. My audiologist recommended BTE RIC aids and I have tested Widex and Belltone versions which I found to be an improvement in hearing ability but this was accompanied by two problems.
The first problem was retaining my BTE devices in place because I wear spectacles and the frames tend to dislodge the aids, on one occasion the aid fell out and under my driving seat.The remedy tried was fitting a thin plastic finger to lodge within my outer ear but the finger constantly worked its way out to protrude from my ear without my realising.

The second problem arose when the audiologist recommended an ITE retainer, unfortunately when removing the mould the skin in my ear canal was damaged and allowed a nasty ear infection to take hold, the infection has almost gone after antibiotic tablets, ear drops and anti-inflammatory medication. Presently I am using my left ITE aid but because the swelling in the canal has not completely gone I am unable to use the right aid.

I would very much appreciate advice from anyone who has a solution to the problems I have experienced, specifically;
a) Are BTE devices incompatible with the wearing of spectacles?
b) Are there better methods of safely retaining BTE aids in position, particularly during activities such as golf for mid to high handicap players?

Finally I feel that the performance of RIC aids is better and would prefer to enjoy their benefits.
Many thanks.