How to Tell if that Sound is Tinnitus or the Sound of Sleigh Bells Jingling, Ring-Ting-Tingling Too

It’s lovely weather for a … constant, distant ringing in your ears?

The snow is falling, friends are calling “yoo-hoo,” and one in three people cannot tell the difference between a ringing caused by the Salvation Army Santa outside of Walmart, the magical approach of Santa’s sleigh and that phantom sound caused by your hearing loss.

This frustrating debacle can make it impossible to know how to react. Should you put in your hearing aids to help your brain process sound or start singing a jolly jingle? We asked audiologist and professional caroler Dr. Joan Chestnut for tips.

“The holidays can be a tough time for D/deaf and Hard of Hearing folks,” said Dr. Chestnut. “I’m grateful to see The Squeaky Wheel shedding light on this important issue.

“My tip for disabled people who celebrate Christmas is to practice using their other senses to problem solve.” She offers a checklist to help determine the source of the sound:

  1. What do I smell? If the answer is gingerbread, pine or smoke from an open fire, you might be looking at a sleigh bell situation.
  2. What do I see? Rosy cheeks, gentle snowfall, an actual sleigh? You guessed it. Start signing or singing those carols, honey.
  3. What do I taste? Peppermint, hot chocolate and eggnog are all dead giveaways. There’s some sleigh bells in the distance.
  4. Lastly, check in with your sense of touch. This one can be tricky, but the chance that it is sleigh bells increases if there’s snow or a cozy scarf within reach.

“Worst case scenario, you guess wrong and end up spreading some Christmas cheer,” said Dr. Chestnut. Then she had to giddy-up, giddy-up, giddy-up and go.

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