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

You may not know it but you could be opening yourself to startling misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing issues. The Hearing Journal has recently published research that backs this up. Tinnitus is surprisingly common. Out of every 5 Americans one has tinnitus, so making sure people have access to accurate, trustworthy information is essential. The web and social media, sadly, are full of this sort of misinformation according to new research.

Finding Information Regarding Tinnitus on Social Media

You aren’t alone if you are searching for others who have tinnitus. Social media is a great place to build community. But ensuring information is displayed accurately is not very well moderated. According to one study:

  • There is misinformation in 30% of YouTube videos
  • Out of all Twitter accounts, 34% contained what was categorized as misinformation
  • 44% of public Facebook groups contained misinformation

This quantity of misinformation can be a daunting challenge for anyone diagnosed with tinnitus: Checking facts can be time-consuming and allot of the misinformation introduced is, frankly, enticing. We simply want to believe it.

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 known as chronic tinnitus when it persists for more than six months.

Common Misinformation About Tinnitus and Hearing Loss

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

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

  • Hearing aids can’t help with tinnitus: Many people assume hearing aids won’t help because tinnitus is experienced as ringing or buzzing in the ears. But today’s hearing aids have been developed that can help you effectively manage your tinnitus symptoms.
  • There is a cure for tinnitus: The desires of individuals with tinnitus are exploited by the most common forms of this misinformation. There is no “miracle pill” cure for tinnitus. You can, however, effectively manage your symptoms and retain 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. There are some medical problems which could trigger tinnitus but otherwise leave your hearing untouched.
  • Tinnitus is caused only by loud noises: It’s not well known and understood what the causes of tinnitus are. Many people, it’s true, have tinnitus as a direct result of trauma to the ears, the results of especially severe or long-term loud noises. But tinnitus can also be connected to other things like genetics, traumatic brain injury, and other factors.
  • Changes in diet will restore your hearing: It’s true that some lifestyle issues might exacerbate your tinnitus (for many drinking anything that contains caffeine can make it worse, for example). And the symptoms can be diminished by eating certain foods. But tinnitus can’t be “cured” for good by diet or lifestyle changes.

Correct Information About Your Hearing Loss is Available

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

  • Look for sources: Try to find out what the source of information is. Are there hearing professionals or medical professionals involved? Is this information documented by trustworthy sources?
  • If the information seems hard to believe, it probably isn’t true. Any website or social media post that professes knowledge of a miracle cure is almost certainly nothing but misinformation.
  • A hearing expert or medical professional should be consulted. If you would like to find out if the information is dependable, and you’ve tried everything else, talk to a respected hearing professional.

The astrophysicist Carl Sagan once said something both simple and profound: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” Not until social media platforms more rigorously distinguish information from misinformation, sharp critical thinking techniques are your best defense against startling misinformation regarding tinnitus and other hearing concerns.

set up an appointment with a hearing care expert if you’ve read some information you are not certain of.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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