You could be exposing yourself to startling misinformation about tinnitus or other hearing issues without ever realizing it. The Hearing Journal has recently published research that backs this up. Tinnitus is surprisingly common. One out of 5 Americans suffers from tinnitus, so ensuring people are given accurate, reliable information is essential. The internet and social media, unfortunately, are full of this sort of misinformation according to a new study.
Finding Information Regarding Tinnitus on Social Media
If you’re researching tinnitus, or you have become a member of a tinnitus support group online, you aren’t alone. A great place to find like minded people is on social media. But there are very few gatekeepers dedicated to ensuring displayed information is correct. According to one study:
- 44% of public Facebook groups had misinformation
- 34% of Twitter accounts were classified as containing misinformation
- 30% of YouTube video results included misinformation
This quantity of misinformation can be an overwhelming challenge for anyone diagnosed with tinnitus: Checking facts can be time-consuming and too much of the misinformation presented is, frankly, enticing. We simply want to believe it’s true.
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 lasts for more than six months, it is known as chronic tinnitus.
Prevailing Misinformation About Tinnitus and Hearing Loss
Many of these myths and mistruths, obviously, are not invented by social media and the internet. But they do make spreading misinformation easier. A trusted hearing specialist should always be contacted with any concerns you have about tinnitus.
Why this misinformation spreads and how it can be challenged can be better recognized by exposing some examples of it.
- Tinnitus isn’t improved by hearing aids: Lots of people assume hearing aids won’t be helpful because tinnitus is experienced as buzzing or ringing in the ears. But today’s hearing aids have been developed that can help you effectively manage your tinnitus symptoms.
- If you’re deaf, you have tinnitus and if you have tinnitus, you will go deaf: The link between loss of hearing and tinnitus does exist but it’s not universal. There are some medical concerns which could lead to tinnitus but otherwise leave your hearing untouched.
- Tinnitus can be cured: One of the more prevalent types of misinformation plays on the hopes of people who have tinnitus. There is no “miracle pill” cure for tinnitus. There are, however, treatments that can assist in maintaining a high quality of life and effectively handle your symptoms.
- Your hearing can be improved by dietary changes: It’s true that certain lifestyle issues may aggravate your tinnitus ((for instance, drinking anything with caffeine can make it worse for many people). And the symptoms can be diminished by eating some foods. But tinnitus can’t be “cured” for good by diet or lifestyle changes.
- 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, suffer tinnitus as a direct outcome of trauma to the ears, the results of particularly harsh or long-term loud noises. But traumatic brain damage, genetics, and other factors can also lead to the development of tinnitus.
How to Find Truthful Facts Concerning Your Hearing Problems
Stopping the spread of misinformation is incredibly important, both for new tinnitus sufferers and for those who are already well acquainted with the symptoms. There are several steps that people can take to attempt to shield themselves from misinformation:
- Look for sources: Try to learn what the sources of information are. Was the information written by or sourced from hearing specialists or medical experts? Is this information documented by trustworthy sources?
- A hearing specialist or medical consultant should be consulted. If you want to determine if the information is reliable, and you’ve tried everything else, talk to a respected hearing professional.
- 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 professes a miracle cure.
The astrophysicist Carl Sagan once said something both simple and profound: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” Until social media platforms more carefully distinguish information from misinformation, sharp critical thinking techniques are your most useful defense against shocking misinformation regarding tinnitus and other hearing concerns.
If you have read some information that you are unsure of, make an appointment with a hearing care specialist.