Hearing Health Blog

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

You may not realize it but you could be exposing yourself to shocking misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing issues. This according to recent research published in The Hearing Journal. Tinnitus is surprisingly common. One out of 5 US citizens has tinnitus, so ensuring people are given correct, trustworthy information is important. Unfortunately, new research is stressing just how prevalent misinformation on the web and social media is.

How Can You Find Information About Tinnitus on Social Media?

You aren’t alone if you are looking for others with tinnitus. Social media is a very good place to build community. But there is very little oversight dedicated to ensuring disseminated information is truthful. According to one study:

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

For individuals diagnosed with tinnitus, this quantity of misinformation can present a difficult obstacle: Checking facts can be time-consuming and a large amount of the misinformation presented is, frankly, enticing. We 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. If this buzzing or ringing persists for longer than six months, it is known as chronic tinnitus.

Prevailing Misinformation About Tinnitus and Hearing Loss

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. A trusted hearing specialist should always be consulted with any concerns you have concerning tinnitus.

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

  • 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 issues which could cause tinnitus but otherwise leave your hearing untouched.
  • Tinnitus can be cured: One of the most common kinds of misinformation plays on the desires of people who have tinnitus. There is no “miracle pill” cure for tinnitus. You can, however, effectively handle your symptoms and retain a high quality of life with treatment.
  • Your hearing can be restored by dietary changes: It’s true that your tinnitus can be aggravated by certain lifestyle changes ((as an example, drinking anything with 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.
  • Tinnitus is caused only by loud noises: It’s really known and understood what the causes of tinnitus are. It’s true that extremely severe or long term noise exposure can cause tinnitus. But tinnitus can also be connected to other things like genetics, traumatic brain injury, and other factors.
  • Tinnitus isn’t helped by hearing aids: Because tinnitus manifests as a certain kind of buzzing or ringing in the ears, many people believe that hearing aids won’t help. But modern hearing aids have been developed that can help you effectively manage your tinnitus symptoms.

How to Find Truthful Information Concerning Your Hearing Concerns

For both new tinnitus sufferers and those well accustomed to the symptoms it’s important to stop the spread of misinformation. To protect themselves from misinformation there are a few steps that people can take.

  • If the information seems hard to believe, it probably isn’t true. Any website or social media post that professes knowledge of a miracle cure is probably nothing but misinformation.
  • Look for sources: Try to find out what the sources of information are. Was the information written by or sourced from hearing professionals or medical experts? Do reliable sources document the information?
  • A hearing expert or medical professional should be consulted. If you’ve tried everything else, run the information you’ve found by a respected hearing professional (preferably one familiar with your situation) to see if there is any credibility to the claims.

Something both profound and simple was once said by astrophysicist Carl Sagan: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” Not until social media platforms more carefully separate 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, set up an appointment with a hearing care professional.

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