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Hearing aids have come a long way from the ones our grandparents used to wear. 

Some designers have added "bling" to hearing devices, transforming them into fashion statements rather than obligatory items to be hidden.

Fox News Digital spoke to several audiologists who often refer their patients to these designer merchants — including independent vendors on Etsy, Instagram and other websites — to find unique accessories that personalize and beautify their hearing aids. 

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Available designs include diamond-encrusted attachments, crystal or silver charms and chains — even superhero charms for children. 

Some vendors even offer colorful and pearl-clasped molds worn around the ear to help people accentuate their style.

DeafMetal USA

DeafMetal USA is an Indiana-based company that specializes in aesthetics in products for hearing loss (sample product shown above). Owner Jen Aslin (not pictured) said she hopes her work will help to erase the stigma surrounding hearing aids and hearing loss. (Jolene Broad Photography for DeafMetal USA)

The jewelry is typically attached through a clasp that hugs onto a piece of the hearing aid, several of these vendors told Fox News Digital.

"Not only do they look stunning, but our chains and cuffs offer a functional purpose by keeping the hearing aids from falling off the ear. They are also perfect for physically active individuals or sports enthusiasts," the Indiana-based designer company Deafmetal USA states on its website.

Not your grandfather's hearing aids

Suzannah Parker, owner of Purple Cat Hearing Aid Charms in Colorado, began designing charms and jewelry attachments for hearing aids when she became aware that her daughter was hard of hearing and needed to be fitted with hearing aids when she was three years old. 

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Worried that her daughter would be teased by others, Parker began looking for ways to make hearing aids a fun experience. 

"I was able to fashion a way to hang earrings safely from the tubing of her aids," Parker told Fox News Digital. "She loved them and so did the people in her audiologist’s office. She was so proud to show them off to strangers."

DeafMetal USA

Multiple audiologists told Fox News Digital that fashionable hearing aids may appeal to younger adults as hearing loss becomes more prevalent. (Jolene Broad Photography for DeafMetal USA)

Parker began making these attachments for other children and later launched her company.

"I decided to do what I could to help make other girls and boys proud to wear their aids, to make it fun and to maybe stop bullying," she said. 

Parker also designed attachments to hold the hearing aids in place and even attach to clothing in case they fall out.

"The charms are a doorway to the conversation about hearing aids and what they are."

"My goal is for hearing devices to be looked upon as normally as glasses are," she told Fox News Digital.

Another designer, Florida-based Nikki Seagraves, told Fox News Digital that she creates hearing aid charms to help instill confidence and pride in those who wear them.

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"The charms are a doorway to the conversation about hearing aids and what they are, while still focusing on the fun," said Seagraves, who launched a company called Whatnot and Wonder. 

"It gives other people an easier way to ask about hearing aids instead of shying away or making assumptions."

DeafMetal USA

"You don’t have to hide your hearing loss or your hearing aids — there are options now," an audiologist told Fox News Digital. (Jolene Broad Photography for DeafMetal USA)

Multiple audiologists told Fox News Digital that these fashionable hearing aids may have growing appeal to younger adults, among whom hearing loss is becoming more prevalent.

"Hearing loss is being detected in those in their 40s due to noise population," Dr. Tanya Linzalone, an audiologist on Long Island, New York, and an adjunct professor in the Speech and Communications Department at Long Island University in Brookville, New York, told Fox News Digital. 

In addition to the more fashion-forward designs, advances in Bluetooth technology could help younger adults adjust to the notion of wearing hearing aids, Linzalone said. 

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"They don’t have to finagle the device like their grandpa’s volume wheel," Linzalone said.

Hearing loss can be socially isolating, said Dr. Leslie Rosenthal, director of speech and audiology and an audiologist at LIJ Northwell Health Hearing and Speech Center on Long Island, New York.

While a hearing aid is a necessity for some, Rosenthal believes it can double as an accessory — and that all patients, from children and young adults to older individuals, should wear them proudly.

DeafMetal USA

Hearing loss affects about 60.7 million Americans age 12 and older, and over 15% of adults 20 and older, according to a November report by the National Council on Aging. (Jolene Broad Photography)

"You don’t have to hide your hearing loss or your hearing aids — there are options now," she said.  

Linzalone agreed that hearing aids have evolved a great deal over the decades.

"When I started over 34 years ago, hearing aids were only available in skin colors or hair colors to make them as invisible as possible," she told Fox News Digital. "Now they come in colors like purple, fire engine red, neon green and yellow."

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Others reiterated that hearing aids have come a long way in terms of both features and style.

"Many are discreet and even fashionable — similar to today's trendy headphones," Dr. Maria Pomponio, an audiologist at Stony Brook University Hospital in New York, told Fox News Digital. 

"Ultimately, we hope that aesthetic changes to these devices will be useful in reducing the stigma associated with hearing loss and hearing aids."

Hearing loss affects about 60.7 million Americans age 12 and older and over 15% of adults 20 and older, according to a November report by the National Council on Aging.

The condition affects some 31% of people age 65 and older and 40% of those 75 and older.

Audiologist

Regardless of style preferences, experts recommend consulting with an audiologist to be properly fitted for a hearing aid device. (iStock)

One of the major obstacles in addressing hearing loss is patients’ noncompliance with wearing a hearing aid, experts told Fox News Digital.

"If you bought it and don’t wear it, it’s useless. If making it more cosmetically appealing helps, then go for it," Linzalone said.

People have a fundamental need to belong, said Dr. Nancy Frye, Ph.D., a psychologist and professor of psychology at Long Island University in Brookville, New York. 

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"Because of that, people are reluctant to do things that might make them feel like they don't fit in with others, including wearing a hearing aid," she told Fox News Digital. 

In some cases, people might opt to miss out on conversations and downplay their hearing loss rather than stand out, Frye added.

Girl with hearing aid

Decorative hearing devices could satisfy an individual’s "need for uniqueness … as opposed to threatening their need to belong," while also fostering connections with others, a psychologist said. (iStock)

Decorative hearing devices could satisfy an individual’s "need for uniqueness … as opposed to threatening their need to belong," while also fostering connections with others, the psychologist said.

Unaddressed hearing loss contributes to social withdrawal and isolation, Dr. Jamie Cluna, an audiologist at Stony Brook University Hospital, agreed.

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"Older adults with hearing loss are also at a greater risk for depression, cognitive decline, falls and dementia," she told Fox News Digital.

What to know when purchasing hearing aid accessories

Dr. Ashutosh Kacker, an ear, nose and throat doctor, and Dr. Haley Bruce, an audiologist — both of Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City — cautioned that if a person uses charms or accessories that attach to their hearing aid, it is important not to cover the microphone, as this will interfere with the hearing aid's effectiveness.

woman with hearing aid talks to family

For those who prefer more subtle hearing aids, audiologists said the devices are becoming more discreet and tech-savvy. (iStock)

For those who prefer more subtle hearing aids, audiologists said the devices are becoming more discreet and tech-savvy. 

Some can even be adjusted through a smartphone app. 

Regardless of their style preferences, experts recommend consulting with an audiologist to be fitted properly for the hearing aid device.

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"An audiologist needs to communicate with their patients … and have a lifestyle analysis to pick the right unit for them," Linzalone told Fox News Digital.

Based on their needs, preferences and activities, different people may need different types of aids even if their hearing loss is the same, she added.

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