You may not realize it but you could be exposing yourself to shocking misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing issues. This based on recent research published in The Hearing Journal. Tinnitus is surprisingly common. One in 5 US citizens struggles with tinnitus, so it’s important to make certain people have reliable, correct information. Unfortunately, new research is stressing just how prevalent misinformation on the web and social media can be.
How Can You Find Information About Tinnitus on Social Media?
If you’re looking into tinnitus, or you have joined a tinnitus support group online, you aren’t alone. Social media is a very good place to find like minded people. But there is very little oversight focused on ensuring displayed information is accurate. According to one study:
- 30% of YouTube video results included misinformation
- Misinformation is contained in 44% of public facebook pages
- Out of all Twitter accounts, 34% contained what was classified as 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 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. When this buzzing or ringing continues for longer than six months, it is known as chronic tinnitus.
Common Misinformation Concerning Tinnitus and Hearing Loss
The internet and social media, obviously, did not create many of these myths and mistruths. But they do make spreading misinformation easier. A reputable hearing professional should always be consulted with any concerns you have about tinnitus.
Debunking some examples might illustrate why this misinformation spreads and how it can be challenged:
- Tinnitus can be cured: One of the more prevalent types of misinformation plays on the hopes of those who have tinnitus. Tinnitus doesn’t have a miracle cure. You can, however, successfully manage your symptoms and maintain a high quality of life with treatment.
- Tinnitus is triggered only by loud noises: The specific causes of tinnitus are not always perfectly understood or documented. It’s true that really severe or long term noise exposure can cause tinnitus. But traumatic brain injuries, genetics, and other issues can also lead to the development of tinnitus.
- Hearing aids can’t help with tinnitus: Because tinnitus is experienced as a certain kind of buzzing or ringing in the ears, lots of people assume that hearing aids won’t be helpful. But today’s hearing aids have been designed that can help you effectively manage your tinnitus symptoms.
- 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 does exist but it’s not universal. There are some medical issues which could trigger tinnitus but otherwise leave your hearing untouched.
- Your hearing can be improved by dietary changes: It’s true that certain lifestyle problems may aggravate your tinnitus (for many drinking anything that has caffeine can make it worse, for example). And the symptoms can be diminished by eating certain foods. But tinnitus can’t be “cured” for good by diet or lifestyle changes.
How to Uncover Truthful Facts Concerning Your Hearing Concerns
Stopping the spread of misinformation is extremely important, both for new tinnitus sufferers and for people who are already well accustomed to the symptoms. To shield themselves from misinformation there are a few steps that people can take.
- Look for sources: Try to determine what the sources of information are. Are there hearing professionals or medical experts involved? Do trustworthy sources document the information?
- 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 almost certainly little more than misinformation.
- A hearing expert or medical consultant should be consulted. If you would like to determine if the information is reliable, and you’ve tried everything else, talk to a trusted hearing specialist.
Something both profound and simple was once said by astrophysicist Carl Sagan: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” Not until social media platforms more rigorously distinguish information from misinformation, sharp critical thinking skills 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, make an appointment with a hearing care specialist.