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

You could be opening yourself to shocking misinformation regarding 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 might recognize. One in 5 Americans suffers from tinnitus, so it’s important to make certain people have reliable, correct information. 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 joined a tinnitus support community online, you’re not alone. Social media is a great place to find like minded people. But ensuring information is displayed accurately is not well moderated. According to one study:

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

This amount of misinformation can be a daunting challenge for anyone diagnosed with tinnitus: Checking facts can be time-consuming and allot of the misinformation presented 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. When this buzzing or ringing lasts for more than six months, it is called chronic tinnitus.

Common Misinformation Concerning Tinnitus and Hearing Loss

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

Why this misinformation spreads and how it can be challenged can be better recognized by exposing some examples of it.

  • Hearing aids won’t help with tinnitus: Lots of people believe hearing aids won’t be helpful because tinnitus is experienced as ringing or buzzing in the ears. But today’s hearing aids have been designed that can help you successfully regulate your tinnitus symptoms.
  • 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 is real but it’s not universal. There are some medical problems which could lead to tinnitus but otherwise leave your hearing intact.
  • Tinnitus is triggered only by loud noises: The specific causes of tinnitus are not always well known or documented. Lots of people, it’s true, suffer tinnitus as a direct result of trauma to the ears, the results of especially extreme or long-term loud noises. But traumatic brain damage, genetics, and other factors can also lead to the development of tinnitus.
  • There is a cure for tinnitus: The desires of those with tinnitus are exploited by the most prevalent kinds of this misinformation. There is no “miracle pill” cure for tinnitus. There are, however, treatments that can help you maintain a high standard of life and effectively regulate your symptoms.
  • Your hearing can be restored by dietary changes: It’s true that some lifestyle issues might aggravate your tinnitus ((for instance, having anything that has caffeine can make it worse for many people). And there may be some foods that can temporarily diminish symptoms. But there is no diet or lifestyle change that will “cure” tinnitus for good.

How to Find Accurate Facts About Your Hearing Issues

Stopping the spread of misinformation is extremely important, both for new tinnitus sufferers and for people who are already well accustomed to the symptoms. To shield themselves from misinformation there are a few steps that people can take.

  • If the information appears hard to believe, it most likely isn’t true. Any website or social media post that professes knowledge of a miracle cure is probably little more than misinformation.
  • Look for sources: Try to find out what the source of information is. Was the information written by or sourced from hearing professionals or medical experts? Do dependable sources document the information?
  • Check with a hearing expert or medical professional: If you would like to find out if the information is dependable, and you’ve tried everything else, run it by a respected hearing professional.

Something both profound and simple was once said by astrophysicist Carl Sagan: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” Until social media platforms more rigorously distinguish information from misinformation, sharp critical thinking skills are your most useful defense against alarming misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing concerns.

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

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