You could be opening yourself to shocking misinformation about tinnitus or other hearing issues without ever realizing it. The Hearing Journal has recently published research that backs this up. Allot more people have tinnitus than you may realize. One in 5 Americans suffers from tinnitus, so it’s important to make sure people have trustworthy, correct information. Sadly, new research is emphasizing just how pervasive misinformation on the web and social media is.
How Can You Find Information About Tinnitus on Social Media?
You aren’t alone if you are looking for other people with tinnitus. Social media is a great place to find like minded people. But making sure information is displayed accurately is not very well moderated. According to one study:
- 34% of Twitter accounts were categorized as containing misinformation
- 44% of public Facebook groups contained misinformation
- There is misinformation in 30% of YouTube videos
This amount of misinformation can be a daunting challenge for anyone diagnosed with tinnitus: Fact-checking can be time-consuming and too much of the misinformation introduced is, frankly, enticing. We simply 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. This buzzing or ringing is known as chronic tinnitus when it persists for longer than six months.
Tinnitus And Hearing Loss, Common Misinformation
Many of these myths and mistruths, obviously, are not created by the internet and social media. But spreading the misinformation is made easier with these tools. You need to discuss questions you have about your tinnitus with a reputable hearing specialist.
Why this misinformation spreads and how it can be challenged can be better understood by exposing some examples of it.
- Changes in diet will improve your hearing: It’s true that your tinnitus can be aggravated by certain lifestyle changes (for many consuming anything that has 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.
- Tinnitus isn’t improved by hearing aids: Many people believe hearing aids won’t help because tinnitus manifests as buzzing or ringing in the ears. But newer hearing aids have been designed that can help you effectively regulate your tinnitus symptoms.
- Tinnitus is caused only by loud noises: The specific causes of tinnitus are not always well understood or recorded. Many people, it’s true, suffer tinnitus as an immediate outcome of trauma to the ears, the results of especially severe or long-term loud noises. But tinnitus can also be connected to other things such as genetics, traumatic brain injury, and other factors.
- There is a cure for tinnitus: The wishes of people who have tinnitus are exploited by the most common kinds of this misinformation. Tinnitus has no miracle cure. You can, however, successfully manage your symptoms and retain a high quality of life with treatment.
- If you’re deaf, you have tinnitus and if you have tinnitus, you will lose your hearing: The connection between loss of hearing and tinnitus does exist but it’s not universal. There are some medical concerns which could cause tinnitus but otherwise leave your hearing untouched.
How to Uncover Truthful Facts About Your Hearing Issues
For both new tinnitus sufferers and those well acquainted with the symptoms it’s crucial to stop the spread of misinformation. To protect themselves from misinformation there are a few steps that people can take.
- If it’s too good to be true, it most likely isn’t. Any website or social media post that claims to have knowledge of a miracle cure is almost certainly little more than misinformation.
- Check with a hearing expert or medical professional: If all else fails, run the information that you found by a trusted hearing professional (ideally one familiar with your situation) to see if there is any validity to the claims.
- Look for sources: Try to find out what the sources of information are. Was the information written by or sourced from hearing specialists or medical experts? Is this information documented by reliable sources?
Something both profound and simple was once said by astrophysicist Carl Sagan: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” Sharp critical thinking skills are your strongest defense from alarming misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing Concerns at least until social media platforms more carefully distinguish information from misinformation
If you have found some information that you are uncertain of, schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional.