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

You may not recognize it but you could be opening yourself to shocking misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing problems. The Hearing Journal has recently published research that backs this up. Allot more people suffer from tinnitus than you might think. One in 5 Americans struggles with tinnitus, so making sure people are given correct, trustworthy information is important. Unfortunately, new research is emphasizing just how pervasive misinformation on the internet and social media can be.

Finding Information Regarding Tinnitus on Social Media

You’re not alone if you are looking for others who have tinnitus. Social media is a very good place to find like minded people. But ensuring information is displayed accurately is not well moderated. According to one study:

  • There is misinformation in 30% of YouTube videos
  • Misinformation is contained in 44% of public facebook pages
  • 34% of Twitter accounts were classified as having misinformation

For anyone diagnosed with tinnitus, this quantity of misinformation can provide a difficult challenge: Fact-checking can be time-consuming and too much of the misinformation provided is, frankly, enticing. We 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. This buzzing or ringing is called chronic tinnitus when it continues for more than six months.

Common Misinformation Concerning Tinnitus and Hearing Loss

The internet and social media, obviously, did not invent many of these myths and mistruths. But they do make spreading misinformation easier. A reputable hearing specialist should always be contacted with any questions you have about tinnitus.

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

  • Changes in diet will improve your hearing: It’s true that your tinnitus can be exacerbated by some lifestyle changes (for many consuming anything that has caffeine can make it worse, for example). And there may be some foods that can temporarily diminish symptoms. But tinnitus can’t be “cured” for good by diet or lifestyle changes.
  • Hearing aids can’t help with tinnitus: Because tinnitus manifests as a certain kind of ringing or buzzing in the ears, lots of people think that hearing aids won’t help. Your tinnitus can be effectively controlled by modern hearing aids.
  • If you’re deaf, you have tinnitus and if you have tinnitus, you will go deaf: It’s true that in some cases tinnitus and hearing loss can be connected, but such a connection is not universal. Tinnitus can be caused by certain illnesses which leave overall hearing intact.
  • Tinnitus can be cured: The desires of people with tinnitus are exploited by the most prevalent kinds of this misinformation. Tinnitus doesn’t have a miracle cure. You can, however, effectively manage your symptoms and retain a high quality of life with treatment.
  • Tinnitus is caused only by loud noises: The specific causes of tinnitus are not really perfectly understood or documented. Many people, it’s true, have tinnitus as a direct result of trauma to the ears, the results of particularly extreme or long-term loud noises. But tinnitus can also be connected to other things such as genetics, traumatic brain injury, and other factors.

How to Uncover Truthful Facts About Your Hearing Issues

Stopping the spread of misinformation is incredibly important, both for new tinnitus sufferers and for those who are already well accustomed to the symptoms. There are several steps that people should take to try to shield themselves from misinformation:

  • If it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t. You most likely have a case of misinformation if a website or media post claims to have a miracle cure.
  • Consult a hearing expert or medical professional: If you would like to determine if the information is trustworthy, and you’ve tried everything else, run it by a trusted hearing specialist.
  • Look for sources: Try to determine what the sources of information are. Was the information written by or sourced from hearing professionals or medical experts? Is this information documented by reliable sources?

The astrophysicist Carl Sagan once said something both simple and profound: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” Sharp critical thinking skills are your strongest defense against shocking misinformation concerning tinnitus and other hearing issues at least until social media platforms more rigorously separate information from misinformation

If you have read some information that you are not certain of, make an appointment with a hearing care specialist.

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