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

You could be exposing yourself to startling misinformation about tinnitus or other hearing problems without ever recognizing it. The Hearing Journal has recently published research supporting this. Tinnitus is surprisingly common. One in 5 Americans struggles with tinnitus, so ensuring people have access to accurate, reliable information is important. The web and social media, sadly, are full of this kind of misinformation according to a new study.

How Can You Find Information About Tinnitus on Social Media?

You aren’t 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 disseminated accurately is not well regulated. According to one study:

  • 44% of public Facebook groups contained misinformation
  • Out of all Twitter accounts, 34% had what was classified as misinformation
  • 30% of YouTube video results included misinformation

This amount of misinformation can be an overwhelming challenge for anyone diagnosed with tinnitus: Checking facts can be time-consuming and too much of the misinformation provided is, frankly, enticing. We simply want to believe it.

Tinnitus, What is it?

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 more than six months, it is known as chronic tinnitus.

Tinnitus And Hearing Loss, Common Misinformation

Many of these myths and mistruths, obviously, are not created by social media and the internet. But spreading the misinformation is made easier with these tools. A trusted hearing professional should always be contacted with any concerns you have about tinnitus.

Exposing some examples may demonstrate why this misinformation spreads and how it can be challenged:

  • Loud noises are the only trigger of tinnitus: It’s not well known and documented what the causes of tinnitus are. Lots of people, it’s true, have tinnitus as an immediate result of trauma to the ears, the results of particularly harsh or long-term loud noises. But tinnitus can also be linked to other things like genetics, traumatic brain injury, and other factors.
  • Changes in diet will restore your hearing: It’s true that your tinnitus can be exacerbated by certain lifestyle changes (for many consuming anything that has caffeine can make it worse, for example). And the symptoms can be lessened by eating some foods. But tinnitus can’t be “cured” for good by diet or lifestyle changes.
  • Hearing aids can’t help with tinnitus: Lots of people believe hearing aids won’t help because tinnitus manifests as buzzing or ringing in the ears. But newer hearing aids have been developed that can help you effectively regulate your tinnitus symptoms.
  • There is a cure for tinnitus: One of the more common types of misinformation plays on the hopes of individuals who have tinnitus. There isn’t a “miracle pill” cure for tinnitus. You can, however, effectively manage your symptoms and maintain a high quality of life with treatment.
  • You will lose your hearing if you have tinnitus, and if you are deaf you already have tinnitus: It’s true that in certain cases tinnitus and hearing loss can be connected, but such a connection is not universal. Tinnitus can be caused by certain diseases which leave overall hearing untouched.

How to Find Truthful Facts About Your Hearing Concerns

For both new tinnitus sufferers and those well acquainted with the symptoms it’s important to stop the spread of misinformation. To protect themselves from misinformation there are a few steps that people can take.

  • 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 find out if the information is dependable, and you’ve tried everything else, talk to a trusted hearing specialist.
  • Look for sources: Try to get a feel for what the source of information is. Are there hearing professionals or medical experts involved? Is this information documented by reliable sources?

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

Make an appointment with a hearing care expert if you’ve read some information you are not sure of.

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