You may not recognize 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 remarkably common. One in 5 Americans has tinnitus, so it’s essential to make sure people have trustworthy, accurate information. Sadly, new research is emphasizing just how pervasive misinformation on the internet and social media is.
Finding Information About Tinnitus on Social Media
You aren’t alone if you are looking for other people with tinnitus. Social media is a great place to build community. But making sure information is disseminated accurately is not well regulated. According to one study:
- 44% of public Facebook groups contained misinformation
- Out of all Twitter accounts, 34% included what was categorized as misinformation
- There is misinformation in 30% of YouTube videos
This amount of misinformation can be an overwhelming challenge for anyone diagnosed with tinnitus: Fact-checking can be time-consuming and allot of the misinformation presented is, frankly, enticing. We simply want to believe it.
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 persists for more than six months, it is called chronic tinnitus.
Tinnitus And Hearing Loss, Common Misinformation
The internet and social media, of course, did not invent many of these myths and mistruths. But spreading the misinformation is made easier with these tools. A trusted hearing specialist should always be contacted with any questions you have concerning tinnitus.
Exposing some examples may demonstrate why this misinformation spreads and how it can be challenged:
- Hearing aids won’t help with tinnitus: Because tinnitus is experienced as a certain kind of ringing or buzzing in the ears, many people assume that hearing aids won’t be helpful. But modern hearing aids have been designed that can help you successfully manage your tinnitus symptoms.
- You will go deaf if you have tinnitus, and if you are deaf you already have tinnitus: The connection between hearing loss and tinnitus is real but it’s not universal. There are some medical problems which could lead to tinnitus but otherwise leave your hearing untouched.
- There is a cure for tinnitus: One of the more prevalent types of misinformation exploits the desires of people who suffer from tinnitus. There is no “miracle pill” cure for tinnitus. You can, however, successfully manage your symptoms and retain a high quality of life with treatment.
- Your hearing can be improved by dietary changes: It’s true that your tinnitus can be aggravated by some lifestyle changes ((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 there is no diet or lifestyle change that will “cure” tinnitus for good.
- Loud noises are the only cause of tinnitus: It’s not well known and understood what the causes of tinnitus are. It’s true that extremely severe or long term noise exposure can lead to tinnitus. But traumatic brain damage, genetics, and other issues can also lead to the development of tinnitus.
How to Find Truthful Information Concerning Your Hearing Problems
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 try to protect themselves from misinformation:
- Look for sources: Try to determine what the sources of information are. Are there hearing professionals or medical experts involved? Is this information documented by dependable sources?
- If it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t. Any website or social media post that professes knowledge of a miracle cure is probably little more than misinformation.
- A hearing specialist or medical consultant should be consulted. If you would like to see if the information is reliable, and you’ve tried everything else, run it by a respected hearing professional.
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 from Startling misinformation concerning tinnitus and other hearing Concerns at least until social media platforms more carefully distinguish information from misinformation
If you have found some information that you are uncertain of, set up an appointment with a hearing care professional.