You could be exposing yourself to shocking misinformation about tinnitus or other hearing problems without ever recognizing it. The Hearing Journal has recently published research supporting this. Allot more people suffer from tinnitus than you may realize. One in 5 Americans suffers from tinnitus, so ensuring people are given correct, trustworthy information is important. Sadly, new research is emphasizing just how pervasive misinformation on the internet and social media is.
Finding Information Regarding 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 there are very few gatekeepers focused on ensuring displayed information is truthful. According to one study:
- Misinformation is found in 44% of public facebook pages
- 34% of Twitter accounts were categorized as having misinformation
- There is misinformation contained 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 a large amount of the misinformation presented 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 known as chronic tinnitus when it lasts for more than six months.
Tinnitus And Hearing Loss, Common Misinformation
Many of these myths and mistruths, obviously, are not invented by the internet and social media. But spreading the misinformation is made easier with these tools. A reputable hearing professional should always be consulted with any concerns you have about tinnitus.
Debunking some examples may demonstrate why this misinformation spreads and how it can be challenged:
- Changes in diet will restore your hearing: It’s true that your tinnitus can be exacerbated by some lifestyle changes (for many drinking anything that contains caffeine can make it worse, for example). And the symptoms can be decreased by eating some foods. But there is no diet or lifestyle change that will “cure” tinnitus for good.
- Tinnitus can be cured: One of the most common kinds of misinformation plays on the desires of people who have tinnitus. There is no “miracle pill” cure for tinnitus. You can, however, effectively handle your symptoms and maintain 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 hearing loss and tinnitus is real but it’s not universal. Tinnitus can be triggered by certain diseases which leave overall hearing intact.
- Tinnitus is caused only by loud noises: The specific causes of tinnitus are not always perfectly known or documented. It’s true that very harsh or long term noise exposure can lead to tinnitus. But traumatic brain injuries, genetics, and other factors can also lead to the development of tinnitus.
- Tinnitus isn’t helped by hearing aids: Many people believe hearing aids won’t help because tinnitus manifests as ringing or buzzing in the ears. But today’s hearing aids have been designed that can help you successfully regulate your tinnitus symptoms.
Accurate Information Concerning Your Hearing Loss is Available
Stopping the spread of misinformation is incredibly important, both for new tinnitus sufferers and for people who are already well accustomed to the symptoms. To protect themselves from misinformation there are a few steps that people can take.
- If the information seems hard to believe, it most likely isn’t true. Any website or social media post that professes knowledge of a miracle cure is almost certainly nothing but misinformation.
- Consult a hearing expert or medical professional: If you’ve tried everything else, run the information that you found by a trusted hearing specialist (preferably one acquainted with your case) to find out if there is any validity to the claims.
- Look for sources: Try to find out where your information is coming from. Was the information written by or sourced from hearing professionals or medical experts? Is this information documented by trustworthy sources?
The astrophysicist Carl Sagan once said something both simple and profound: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” Not until social media platforms more rigorously separate information from misinformation, sharp critical thinking techniques are your best defense against alarming misinformation regarding tinnitus and other hearing concerns.
Make an appointment with a hearing care expert if you’ve read some information you are not certain of.