Hearing Health Blog

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

You may not know it but you could be opening yourself to shocking misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing issues. This according to recent research published in The Hearing Journal. Tinnitus is surprisingly common. Out of every 5 Us citizens one suffers from tinnitus, so it’s essential to make sure people have trustworthy, correct information. Sadly, new research is stressing just how prevalent misinformation on the internet and social media can be.

Finding Information About Tinnitus on Social Media

You aren’t alone if you are searching for others with tinnitus. Social media is a great place to build community. But ensuring information is displayed accurately is not very well regulated. According to one study:

  • 44% of public Facebook groups contained misinformation
  • Out of all Twitter accounts, 34% contained what was classified as misinformation
  • 30% of YouTube video results contained misinformation

This amount of misinformation can be an overwhelming challenge for anyone diagnosed with tinnitus: Checking facts can be time-consuming and a large amount of the misinformation provided is, frankly, enticing. 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. If this buzzing or ringing lasts for longer than six months, it is known as chronic tinnitus.

Tinnitus And Hearing Loss, Common Misinformation

Many of these myths and mistruths, of course, are not invented by social media and the internet. But spreading the misinformation is made easier with these tools. A reputable hearing specialist should always be contacted with any concerns you have concerning tinnitus.

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

  • Your hearing can be improved by dietary changes: It’s true that your tinnitus can be aggravated by certain lifestyle changes (for many drinking anything that contains caffeine can make it worse, for example). And the symptoms can be diminished by eating some foods. But there is no diet or lifestyle change that will “cure” tinnitus for good.
  • Hearing aids won’t help with tinnitus: Many people assume hearing aids won’t be helpful because tinnitus is experienced as buzzing or ringing in the ears. Your tinnitus can be effectively managed by modern hearing aids.
  • You will go deaf if you have tinnitus, and if you are deaf you already have tinnitus: It’s true that in some cases tinnitus and hearing loss can be connected, but such a connection is not universal. There are some medical concerns which could trigger tinnitus but otherwise leave your hearing untouched.
  • Loud noises are the only trigger of tinnitus: The exact causes of tinnitus are not really well understood or recorded. It’s true that really harsh or long term noise exposure can lead to tinnitus. But tinnitus can also be connected to other things such as genetics, traumatic brain injury, and other factors.
  • There is a cure for tinnitus: One of the more prevalent forms of misinformation exploits the desires of individuals who have tinnitus. Tinnitus doesn’t have a miracle cure. There are, however, treatments that can help you maintain a high quality of life and effectively manage your symptoms.

How to Find Truthful Information About Your Hearing Concerns

Stopping the spread of misinformation is extremely important, both for new tinnitus sufferers and for those who are already well acquainted with the symptoms. To protect themselves from misinformation there are several steps that people can take.

  • Check with a hearing expert or medical professional: If you want to see if the information is trustworthy, 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. Any website or social media post that professes knowledge of a miracle cure is probably little more than misinformation.
  • Look for sources: Try to learn what the sources of information are. Was the information written by or sourced from hearing specialists or medical experts? Is this information documented by dependable sources?

The astrophysicist Carl Sagan once said something both simple and profound: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” Sharp critical thinking techniques are your strongest defense against shocking misinformation concerning tinnitus and other hearing issues at least until social media platforms more rigorously separate information from misinformation

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

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