You might not know it but you could be opening yourself to shocking misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing issues. This as reported by recent research published in The Hearing Journal. Tinnitus is remarkably common. One out of 5 Americans struggles with tinnitus, so ensuring people are given correct, trustworthy information is essential. The web and social media, unfortunately, are full of this kind of misinformation according to new research.
How Can You Find Information About Tinnitus on Social Media?
If you’re researching tinnitus, or you have joined a tinnitus support group online, you’re not alone. A great place to build a community is on social media. But there is very little oversight dedicated to ensuring displayed information is accurate. According to one study:
- Misinformation is contained in 44% of public facebook pages
- Out of all Twitter accounts, 34% had what was classified as misinformation
- 30% of YouTube video results contained misinformation
This amount of misinformation can be a daunting challenge for anyone diagnosed with tinnitus: The misinformation provided is frequently enticing and checking facts can be time consuming. We 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. This buzzing or ringing is known as chronic tinnitus when it lasts for more than six months.
Prevailing Misinformation Concerning Tinnitus and Hearing Loss
Many of these mistruths and myths, obviously, are not invented by social media and the internet. But they do make spreading misinformation easier. A reputable hearing specialist should always be contacted with any questions you have about tinnitus.
Exposing some examples may illustrate why this misinformation spreads and how it can be challenged:
- There is a cure for tinnitus: The hopes of people who have tinnitus are exploited by the most common types of this misinformation. Tinnitus doesn’t have a miracle cure. You can, however, effectively handle your symptoms and maintain a high quality of life with treatment.
- Your hearing can be restored by dietary changes: It’s true that certain lifestyle problems might exacerbate your tinnitus (for many drinking anything that has caffeine can make it worse, for example). And the symptoms can be lessened by eating certain foods. But there is no diet or lifestyle change that will “cure” tinnitus for good.
- Hearing aids can’t help with tinnitus: Many people believe hearing aids won’t be helpful because tinnitus manifests as buzzing or ringing in the ears. Your tinnitus can be effectively controlled by modern hearing aids.
- You will lose your hearing if you have tinnitus, and if you are deaf you already have tinnitus: The connection between loss of hearing and tinnitus is real but it’s not universal. There are some medical issues which could trigger tinnitus but otherwise leave your hearing intact.
- Loud noises are the only trigger of tinnitus: It’s not well known and understood what the causes of tinnitus are. Many people, it’s true, suffer tinnitus as a direct outcome of trauma to the ears, the results of especially severe 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 Information About Your Hearing Concerns
For both new tinnitus sufferers and people well acquainted with the symptoms it’s important to stop the spread of misinformation. There are several steps that people can take to try to protect themselves from misinformation:
- A hearing expert or medical consultant should be consulted. If you want to see if the information is dependable, and you’ve tried everything else, talk to a trusted hearing professional.
- 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 dependable sources?
- If it’s too good to be true, it most likely isn’t. Any website or social media post that claims to have knowledge of a miracle cure is almost certainly nothing but misinformation.
Something both profound and simple was once said by astrophysicist Carl Sagan: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” Sharp critical thinking techniques are your strongest defense against shocking misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing issues at least until social media platforms more rigorously distinguish information from misinformation
If you have found some information that you are unsure of, make an appointment with a hearing care specialist.