You might not know it but you could be opening yourself to shocking misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing problems. The Hearing Journal has recently published research that backs this up. Allot more people suffer from tinnitus than you might realize. One out of 5 Americans struggles with tinnitus, so making sure people have access to correct, reliable information is essential. The web and social media, sadly, are full of this sort of misinformation according to a new study.
How Can You Find Information About 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 good place to find like minded people is on social media. But there is very little oversight dedicated to ensuring displayed information is truthful. According to one study:
- 34% of Twitter accounts were classified as having misinformation
- 44% of public Facebook groups included misinformation
- There is misinformation in 30% of YouTube videos
For individuals diagnosed with tinnitus, this quantity of misinformation can provide a daunting challenge: Fact-checking can be time-consuming and allot of the misinformation provided 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. This buzzing or ringing is known as chronic tinnitus when it continues for more than six months.
Prevailing Misinformation Concerning Tinnitus and Hearing Loss
Many of these myths and mistruths, obviously, are not invented by the internet and social media. But they do make spreading misinformation easier. You need to go over concerns you have about your tinnitus with a trusted hearing professional.
Debunking some examples might show why this misinformation spreads and how it can be challenged:
- Tinnitus isn’t helped by hearing aids: Because tinnitus manifests as a select kind of ringing or buzzing in the ears, lots of people think that hearing aids won’t be helpful. Your tinnitus can be effectively managed by today’s hearing aids.
- If you’re deaf, you have tinnitus and if you have tinnitus, you will go deaf: The link between hearing loss and tinnitus is real but it’s not universal. There are some medical problems which could cause tinnitus but otherwise leave your hearing intact.
- Your hearing can be improved by dietary changes: It’s true that some lifestyle problems might exacerbate your tinnitus (for many consuming anything that has caffeine can make it worse, for example). And the symptoms can be lessened by eating certain foods. But tinnitus can’t be “cured” for good by diet or lifestyle changes.
- Loud noises are the only trigger of tinnitus: The specific causes of tinnitus are not always perfectly understood or recorded. It’s true that extremely extreme or long term noise exposure can cause tinnitus. But tinnitus can also be linked to other things such as genetics, traumatic brain injury, and other factors.
- There is a cure for tinnitus: One of the most common forms of misinformation plays on the wishes of people who suffer from tinnitus. There isn’t a “miracle pill” cure for tinnitus. You can, however, successfully handle your symptoms and retain a high quality of life with treatment.
Correct Information Concerning Your Hearing Loss is Available
For both new tinnitus sufferers and those well accustomed to the symptoms it’s essential to stop the spread of misinformation. There are a few steps that people can take to try to protect themselves from misinformation:
- If it’s too good to be true, it most likely isn’t. You probably have a case of misinformation if a website or media post claims to have a miracle cure.
- Consult a hearing specialist or medical professional: If you want to find out if the information is dependable, and you’ve tried everything else, talk to a trusted hearing specialist.
- Look for sources: Try to find out where your information is coming from. Was the information written by or sourced from hearing professionals or medical experts? Is this information documented by trustworthy sources?
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 best defense against alarming misinformation regarding tinnitus and other hearing issues.
If you have found some information that you are unsure of, make an appointment with a hearing care specialist.