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

You may not recognize it but you could be exposing yourself to shocking misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing problems. The Hearing Journal has recently published research supporting this. Tinnitus is remarkably common. One in 5 Americans suffers from tinnitus, so it’s important to make certain people have reliable, correct information. The web and social media, unfortunately, are full of this kind of misinformation according to new research.

Finding Information About Tinnitus on Social Media

You’re not alone if you are searching for other people with tinnitus. A good place to find like minded people is on social media. But there is very little oversight dedicated to ensuring disseminated information is truthful. According to one study:

  • 44% of public Facebook groups had misinformation
  • 34% of Twitter accounts were categorized as having misinformation
  • There is misinformation contained in 30% of YouTube videos

This quantity of misinformation can be a daunting challenge for anyone diagnosed with tinnitus: Fact-checking can be time-consuming and a large amount of the misinformation presented 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 called chronic tinnitus when it continues for more than six months.

Tinnitus And Hearing Loss, Common Misinformation

Social media and the internet, obviously, did not invent many of these myths and mistruths. But spreading the misinformation is made easier with these tools. You need to go over questions you have about your tinnitus with a trusted hearing specialist.

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

  • Tinnitus isn’t helped by hearing aids: Because tinnitus is experienced as a certain kind of buzzing or ringing in the ears, lots of people think that hearing aids won’t be helpful. Your tinnitus can be effectively managed by today’s hearing aids.
  • Changes in diet will restore your hearing: It’s true that some lifestyle issues may aggravate your tinnitus ((for example, having anything that has caffeine can make it worse for many people). And there may be some foods that can temporarily diminish symptoms. But tinnitus can’t be “cured” for good by diet or lifestyle changes.
  • Loud noises are the only cause of tinnitus: It’s really known and documented what the causes of tinnitus are. Many people, it’s true, suffer tinnitus as an immediate outcome of trauma to the ears, the results of particularly severe or long-term loud noises. But tinnitus can also be linked to other things such as genetics, traumatic brain injury, and other factors.
  • Tinnitus can be cured: One of the more prevalent types of misinformation exploits the desires of those who suffer from tinnitus. Tinnitus has no miracle cure. You can, however, effectively handle your symptoms and maintain a high quality of life with treatment.
  • If you’re deaf, you have tinnitus and if you have tinnitus, you will go deaf: It’s true that in certain cases tinnitus and loss of hearing can be connected, but such a connection is not universal. Tinnitus can be caused by certain sicknesses which leave overall hearing untouched.

How to Find Accurate Facts Concerning Your Hearing Issues

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

  • Check with a hearing expert or medical professional: If you’ve tried everything else, run the information that you found by a respected hearing professional (if possible one familiar with your case) to see if there is any validity to the claims.
  • If the information appears hard to believe, it probably isn’t true. Any website or social media post that claims to have knowledge of a miracle cure is almost certainly nothing but misinformation.
  • Look for sources: Try to learn what the sources of information are. Are there hearing specialists or medical professionals involved? Is this information documented by reliable sources?

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

If you have found some information that you are unsure of, schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional.

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