You could be opening yourself to startling misinformation about tinnitus or other hearing problems without ever recognizing it. The Hearing Journal has recently published research that backs this up. Tinnitus is remarkably common. Out of every 5 Americans one suffers from tinnitus, so it’s essential to make certain people have trustworthy, correct information. Sadly, new research is stressing just how pervasive misinformation on the web and social media can be.
Finding Information Regarding Tinnitus on Social Media
If you’re researching tinnitus, or you have become a member of a tinnitus support community online, you aren’t alone. A good place to find like minded people is on social media. But ensuring information is displayed truthfully is not well moderated. According to one study:
- 44% of public Facebook groups had misinformation
- Out of all Twitter accounts, 34% contained what was classified as misinformation
- There is misinformation contained in 30% of YouTube videos
For individuals diagnosed with tinnitus, this quantity of misinformation can present a difficult challenge: Fact-checking can be time-consuming and too much of the misinformation provided is, frankly, enticing. We 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. If this buzzing or ringing continues for longer than six months, it is known as chronic tinnitus.
Prevailing Misinformation About Tinnitus and Hearing Loss
Many of these mistruths and myths, obviously, are not created by social media and the internet. But they do make spreading misinformation easier. A trusted hearing specialist should always be contacted with any questions you have about tinnitus.
Why this misinformation spreads and how it can be challenged can be better recognized by debunking some examples of it.
- Loud noises are the only trigger of tinnitus: It’s really known and documented what the causes of tinnitus are. It’s true that very extreme or long term noise exposure can cause tinnitus. But traumatic brain damage, genetics, and other issues can also cause the development of tinnitus.
- Tinnitus isn’t helped by hearing aids: Many people assume hearing aids won’t be helpful because tinnitus is experienced as ringing or buzzing in the ears. Your tinnitus can be effectively controlled by today’s hearing aids.
- Your hearing can be restored by dietary changes: It’s true that your tinnitus can be exacerbated by some lifestyle changes (for many consuming anything that has 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.
- You will go deaf if you have tinnitus, and if you are deaf you already have tinnitus: The connection between hearing loss and tinnitus is real but it’s not universal. There are some medical concerns which could trigger tinnitus but otherwise leave your hearing intact.
- Tinnitus can be cured: The hopes of those with tinnitus are exploited by the most common kinds of this misinformation. Tinnitus has no miracle cure. There are, however, treatment options that can assist in maintaining a high standard of life and effectively handle your symptoms.
Accurate Information About Your Hearing Loss is Available
Stopping the spread of misinformation is extremely 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 it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t. You most likely have a case of misinformation if a website or media post professes a miracle cure.
- Look for sources: Try to get a feel for what the source of information is. Are there hearing specialists or medical professionals involved? Do dependable sources document the information?
- A hearing expert or medical professional should be consulted. If you’ve tried everything else, run the information you’ve found by a trusted hearing professional (if possible one acquainted with your case) to see if there is any credibility to the claims.
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 concerning tinnitus and other hearing Concerns at least until social media platforms more rigorously separate information from misinformation
If you have read some information that you are uncertain of, make an appointment with a hearing care professional.