You could be opening yourself to startling misinformation regarding tinnitus or other hearing issues without ever recognizing it. The Hearing Journal has recently published research supporting this. Tinnitus is remarkably common. One in 5 Americans has tinnitus, so it’s essential to make certain people have trustworthy, correct information. The internet and social media, unfortunately, are full of this type of misinformation according to new research.
How Can You Find Information About Tinnitus on Social Media?
You’re not alone if you are searching for others with tinnitus. A good place to find like minded people is on social media. But there is very little oversight focused on ensuring disseminated information is truthful. According to one study:
- Out of all Twitter accounts, 34% contained what was classified as misinformation
- There is misinformation contained in 30% of YouTube videos
- Misinformation is found in 44% of public facebook pages
For people diagnosed with tinnitus, this amount of misinformation can present a difficult obstacle: Checking facts can be time-consuming and allot of the misinformation introduced is, frankly, enticing. We simply want to believe it’s true.
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 called chronic tinnitus when it persists for longer than six months.
Prevailing Misinformation Concerning Tinnitus and Hearing Loss
Many of these myths and mistruths, of course, are not invented by social media and the internet. But they do make spreading misinformation easier. You need to discuss concerns you have about your tinnitus with a trusted hearing specialist.
Exposing some examples might show why this misinformation spreads and how it can be challenged:
- Tinnitus can be cured: The desires of individuals with tinnitus are exploited by the most common kinds of this misinformation. There isn’t a “miracle pill” cure for tinnitus. There are, however, treatments that can help you maintain a high quality of life and effectively organize your symptoms.
- Your hearing can be restored by dietary changes: It’s true that your tinnitus can be exacerbated by certain lifestyle changes (for many consuming anything that contains caffeine can make it worse, for example). And the symptoms can be diminished by eating some foods. But tinnitus can’t be “cured” for good by diet or lifestyle changes.
- 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. Tinnitus can be triggered by certain conditions which leave overall hearing intact.
- Hearing aids won’t help with tinnitus: Because tinnitus is experienced as a select kind of ringing or buzzing in the ears, lots of people presume that hearing aids won’t help. But today’s hearing aids have been designed that can help you successfully manage your tinnitus symptoms.
- Tinnitus is triggered only by loud noises: It’s really known and documented what the causes of tinnitus are. Lots of people, it’s true, suffer tinnitus as a direct result of trauma to the ears, the results of particularly severe or long-term loud noises. But traumatic brain injuries, genetics, and other factors can also result in the development of tinnitus.
Accurate Information Concerning Your Hearing Loss is Available
Stopping the spread of misinformation is incredibly important, both for new tinnitus sufferers and for those who are already well accustomed to the symptoms. There are several steps that people can take to attempt to protect themselves from misinformation:
- If the information appears hard to believe, it probably isn’t true. You probably have a case of misinformation if a website or media post claims to have a miracle cure.
- Look for sources: Try to find out where your information is coming from. Are there hearing specialists or medical experts involved? Do trustworthy sources document the information?
- Check with a hearing specialist or medical professional: If you would like to find out if the information is dependable, and you’ve tried everything else, talk to a trusted hearing professional.
The astrophysicist Carl Sagan once said something both simple and profound: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” Until social media platforms more rigorously separate information from misinformation, sharp critical thinking techniques are your best defense against alarming misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing concerns.
If you have found some information that you are not certain of, make an appointment with a hearing care professional.