Man looking up information on tinnitus in social media on his cell phone.

You could be opening yourself to shocking misinformation regarding tinnitus or other hearing issues without ever realizing it. This based on recent research published in The Hearing Journal. Tinnitus is surprisingly common. Out of every 5 Us citizens one has tinnitus, so it’s important to make sure people have trustworthy, correct information. Sadly, new research is emphasizing just how pervasive misinformation on the internet and social media is.

Finding Information About Tinnitus on Social Media

You’re not alone if you are searching for other people with tinnitus. Social media is a very good place to find like minded people. But ensuring information is displayed correctly is not very well moderated. According to one study:

  • 30% of YouTube video results included misinformation
  • Out of all Twitter accounts, 34% included what was classified as misinformation
  • Misinformation is contained in 44% of public facebook pages

This quantity of misinformation can be a daunting challenge for anyone diagnosed with tinnitus: The misinformation provided is usually enticing and checking facts can be time consuming. We simply want to believe it’s true.

What Is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a common medical condition in which the person suffering hears a buzzing or ringing in one’s ears. If this buzzing or ringing continues for longer than six months, it is called chronic tinnitus.

Common Misinformation About Tinnitus and Hearing Loss

Many of these myths and mistruths, of course, are not invented by social media and the internet. But spreading the misinformation is made easier with these tools. You should always discuss concerns you have about your tinnitus with a trusted hearing specialist.

Why this misinformation spreads and how it can be challenged can be better recognized by exposing some examples of it.

  • Your hearing can be restored by dietary changes: It’s true that your tinnitus can be aggravated by some lifestyle changes ((for instance, drinking anything that has caffeine can make it worse for many people). And the symptoms can be decreased by eating certain foods. But there is no diet or lifestyle change that will “cure” tinnitus for good.
  • You will lose your hearing if you have tinnitus, and if you are deaf you already have tinnitus: The connection between loss of hearing and tinnitus does exist but it’s not universal. There are some medical concerns which could cause tinnitus but otherwise leave your hearing untouched.
  • Tinnitus can be cured: The hopes of people who have tinnitus are exploited by the most common forms of this misinformation. There isn’t a “miracle pill” cure for tinnitus. You can, however, successfully manage your symptoms and maintain a high quality of life with treatment.
  • Tinnitus is caused only by loud noises: The specific causes of tinnitus are not always well known or recorded. It’s true that extremely extreme or long term noise exposure can lead to tinnitus. But tinnitus can also be linked to other things such as genetics, traumatic brain injury, and other factors.
  • Hearing aids can’t help with tinnitus: Because tinnitus is experienced as a certain kind of buzzing or ringing in the ears, lots of people presume that hearing aids won’t help. But modern hearing aids have been developed that can help you successfully manage your tinnitus symptoms.

Accurate Information About Your Hearing Loss is Available

Stopping the spread of misinformation is incredibly important, both for new tinnitus sufferers and for those who are already well acquainted with the symptoms. To shield themselves from misinformation there are a few steps that people can take.

  • Look for sources: Try to find out what the source of information is. Are there hearing specialists or medical professionals involved? Do reliable sources document the information?
  • Consult a hearing expert or medical professional: If all else fails, run the information that you found by a trusted hearing professional (ideally one familiar with your situation) to find out if there is any credibility to the claims.
  • If it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t. You probably have a case of misinformation if a website or media post professes a miracle cure.

Something both profound and simple was once said by astrophysicist Carl Sagan: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” Until social media platforms more rigorously separate information from misinformation, sharp critical thinking skills are your best defense against startling misinformation regarding tinnitus and other hearing issues.

If you have read some information that you are uncertain of, make an appointment with a hearing care specialist.

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