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

You could be exposing yourself to shocking misinformation about tinnitus or other hearing issues without ever recognizing it. The Hearing Journal has recently published research supporting this. Tinnitus is surprisingly common. One in 5 US citizens struggles with tinnitus, so ensuring people have access to accurate, trustworthy 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’re not alone if you are looking for others who have tinnitus. Social media is a great place to find like minded people. But ensuring information is displayed truthfully is not very well moderated. According to one study:

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

For individuals diagnosed with tinnitus, this quantity of misinformation can present a difficult obstacle: The misinformation introduced is frequently 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. This buzzing or ringing is called chronic tinnitus when it persists for longer than six months.

Tinnitus And Hearing Loss, Common Misinformation

Many of these mistruths and myths, obviously, are not invented 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 reputable hearing specialist.

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

  • Tinnitus can be cured: One of the most common forms of misinformation plays on the wishes of individuals who suffer from tinnitus. There is no “miracle pill” cure for tinnitus. There are, however, treatment options that can help you maintain a high quality of life and effectively manage your symptoms.
  • Loud noises are the only trigger of tinnitus: It’s really known and understood what the causes of tinnitus are. It’s true that really extreme or long term noise exposure can cause tinnitus. But traumatic brain damage, genetics, and other issues can also result in the development of tinnitus.
  • Changes in diet will restore your hearing: It’s true that your tinnitus can be aggravated by certain lifestyle changes (for many consuming anything that contains caffeine can make it worse, for example). And there may be some foods that can temporarily diminish symptoms. But there is no diet or lifestyle change that will “cure” tinnitus for good.
  • 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 link is not universal. There are some medical concerns which could trigger tinnitus but otherwise leave your hearing untouched.
  • Hearing aids can’t help with tinnitus: Because tinnitus is experienced as a select kind of ringing or buzzing in the ears, many people assume that hearing aids won’t help. But today’s hearing aids have been designed that can help you effectively regulate your tinnitus symptoms.

How to Uncover Truthful Facts About Your Hearing Problems

For both new tinnitus sufferers and people well acquainted with the symptoms it’s essential to stop the spread of misinformation. 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 specialists or medical experts involved? Do dependable sources document the information?
  • If the information appears hard to believe, it most likely isn’t true. Any website or social media post that claims to have knowledge of a miracle cure is probably little more than misinformation.
  • A hearing expert or medical professional should be consulted. If all else fails, run the information you’ve found by a trusted hearing specialist (if possible one acquainted with your case) to see if there is any credibility to the claims.

The astrophysicist Carl Sagan once said something both simple and profound: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” Until social media platforms more carefully separate information from misinformation, sharp critical thinking techniques are your best defense against alarming misinformation concerning tinnitus and other hearing concerns.

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

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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