Alarming Misinformation Regarding Tinnitus And Other Hearing Issues

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

You could be opening yourself to startling misinformation regarding tinnitus or other hearing problems without ever realizing it. This according to recent research published in The Hearing Journal. Tinnitus is remarkably common. Out of every 5 Americans one struggles with tinnitus, so making sure people are given correct, reliable information is essential. Sadly, new research is emphasizing just how prevalent misinformation on the web and social media is.

Finding Information Regarding Tinnitus on Social Media

If you’re looking into tinnitus, or you have joined a tinnitus support community online, you aren’t alone. Social media is a very good place to find like minded people. But there is very little oversight dedicated to ensuring displayed information is truthful. According to one study:

  • Out of all Twitter accounts, 34% had what was classified as misinformation
  • Misinformation is contained in 44% of public facebook pages
  • 30% of YouTube video results contained misinformation

For people diagnosed with tinnitus, this amount of misinformation can present a difficult challenge: The misinformation introduced is often enticing and checking facts can be time consuming. 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. When this buzzing or ringing continues for more than six months, it is called chronic tinnitus.

Tinnitus And Hearing Loss, Common Misinformation

Social media and the internet, of course, did not create many of these myths and mistruths. But they do make spreading misinformation easier. You should always discuss questions you have about your tinnitus with a reputable hearing specialist.

Debunking some examples might show why this misinformation spreads and how it can be challenged:

  • Tinnitus isn’t helped by hearing aids: Lots of people believe hearing aids won’t help because tinnitus is experienced as buzzing or ringing in the ears. Your tinnitus can be successfully managed by modern hearing aids.
  • There is a cure for tinnitus: One of the most common types 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 maintain a high quality of life with treatment.
  • Tinnitus is triggered only by loud noises: The precise causes of tinnitus are not really well known or documented. It’s true that extremely harsh or long term noise exposure can lead to tinnitus. But tinnitus can also be linked to other things like genetics, traumatic brain injury, and other factors.
  • Changes in diet will improve your hearing: It’s true that certain lifestyle problems might exacerbate your tinnitus ((for example, having anything that has caffeine can make it worse for many people). And the symptoms can be diminished by eating certain foods. But there is no diet or lifestyle change that will “cure” tinnitus for good.
  • 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. Tinnitus can be triggered by certain diseases which leave overall hearing intact.

Correct Information About Your Hearing Loss is Available

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

  • 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 dependable sources?
  • Consult a hearing specialist or medical professional: If you would like to determine if the information is dependable, and you’ve tried everything else, run it by a trusted hearing specialist.
  • If it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t. You most likely have a case of misinformation if a website or media post claims to have a miracle cure.

Something both profound and simple was once said by astrophysicist Carl Sagan: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” Not until social media platforms more carefully distinguish information from misinformation, sharp critical thinking skills are your best defense against startling misinformation concerning tinnitus and other hearing concerns.

Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist if you’ve read some information you are not sure of.

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