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

You could be exposing yourself to startling misinformation regarding tinnitus or other hearing issues without ever realizing it. The Hearing Journal has recently published research supporting this. Allot more people have tinnitus than you might recognize. Out of every 5 Us citizens one struggles with tinnitus, so it’s important to make sure people have trustworthy, correct information. Unfortunately, new research is stressing just how prevalent misinformation on the web and social media can be.

Finding Information Regarding Tinnitus on Social Media

You’re not alone if you are searching for others who have tinnitus. Social media is a very good place to build community. But there are very few gatekeepers dedicated to ensuring displayed information is truthful. According to one study:

  • 44% of public Facebook groups had misinformation
  • Out of all Twitter accounts, 34% had what was categorized as misinformation
  • There is misinformation in 30% of YouTube videos

This quantity of misinformation can be an overwhelming challenge for anyone diagnosed with tinnitus: The misinformation provided is often enticing and fact checking can be time consuming. 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. When this buzzing or ringing continues for longer than six months, it is known as chronic tinnitus.

Common Misinformation Concerning Tinnitus and Hearing Loss

Many of these myths and mistruths, obviously, are not invented by the internet and social media. But they do make spreading misinformation easier. You need to discuss questions you have about your tinnitus with a trusted hearing specialist.

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

  • Tinnitus isn’t helped by hearing aids: Because tinnitus is experienced as a select kind of ringing or buzzing in the ears, many people presume that hearing aids won’t be helpful. But modern hearing aids have been designed that can help you successfully regulate your tinnitus symptoms.
  • Tinnitus is caused only by loud noises: The exact causes of tinnitus are not always well understood or documented. It’s true that very severe or long term noise exposure can cause tinnitus. But tinnitus can also be linked to other things such as genetics, traumatic brain injury, and other factors.
  • Your hearing can be improved by dietary changes: It’s true that some lifestyle problems might exacerbate your tinnitus (for many drinking anything that contains caffeine can make it worse, for example). And there may be some foods that can temporarily diminish symptoms. But tinnitus can’t be “cured” for good by diet or lifestyle changes.
  • There is a cure for tinnitus: One of the more common kinds of misinformation plays on the hopes of people who have tinnitus. There is no “miracle pill” cure for tinnitus. You can, however, successfully handle your symptoms and retain a high quality of life with treatment.
  • You will lose your hearing if you have tinnitus, and if you are deaf you already have tinnitus: The link between hearing loss and tinnitus does exist but it’s not universal. There are some medical issues which could lead to tinnitus but otherwise leave your hearing intact.

Correct 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 acquainted with the symptoms. To protect themselves from misinformation there are several steps that people can take.

  • Look for sources: Try to find out what the source of information is. Are there hearing specialists or medical experts involved? Is this information documented by dependable sources?
  • If it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t. You probably have a case of misinformation if a website or media post professes a miracle cure.
  • Check with a hearing specialist or medical professional: If all else fails, run the information you’ve found by a respected hearing professional (preferably one acquainted with your situation) to see if there is any credibility to the claims.

The astrophysicist Carl Sagan once said something both simple and profound: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” acute critical thinking skills are your best defense from shocking misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing issues at least until social media platforms more carefully distinguish information from misinformation

set up an appointment with a hearing care expert if you’ve read some information you are unsure of.