You could be opening yourself to shocking misinformation regarding tinnitus or other hearing issues without ever recognizing it. The Hearing Journal has recently published research supporting this. A lot more people suffer from tinnitus than you might realize. Out of every 5 Americans one suffers from tinnitus, so making sure people have access to correct, reliable information is essential. Sadly, new research is emphasizing just how pervasive misinformation on the internet and social media can be.
How Can You Find Information About Tinnitus on Social Media?
If you’re researching tinnitus, or you have joined a tinnitus support group online, you’re not alone. A good place to build a community is on social media. But there are very few gatekeepers dedicated to ensuring disseminated information is accurate. According to one study:
- 30% of YouTube video results included misinformation
- Out of all Twitter accounts, 34% had what was categorized as misinformation
- Misinformation is found in 44% of public Facebook pages
This quantity of misinformation can be a daunting challenge for anyone diagnosed with tinnitus: The misinformation presented is frequently enticing and checking facts 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. This buzzing or ringing is called chronic tinnitus when it persists for more than six months.
Tinnitus And Hearing Loss, Common Misinformation
Social media and the internet, obviously, did not create many of these myths and mistruths. But they do make spreading misinformation easier. A reputable hearing professional should always be consulted with any questions you have concerning tinnitus.
Debunking some examples might demonstrate why this misinformation spreads and how it can be challenged:
- You will go deaf if you have tinnitus, and if you are deaf you already have tinnitus: The link between loss of hearing and tinnitus does exist but it’s not universal. Tinnitus can be caused by certain ailments which leave overall hearing intact.
- Hearing aids won’t help with tinnitus: Many people assume hearing aids won’t be helpful because tinnitus is experienced as buzzing or ringing in the ears. Your tinnitus can be successfully controlled by today’s hearing aids.
- Tinnitus is caused only by loud noises: The exact causes of tinnitus are not really perfectly understood or recorded. It’s true that extremely harsh or long-term noise exposure can cause tinnitus. But traumatic brain injuries, genetics, and other issues can also cause the development of tinnitus.
- Changes in diet will restore your hearing: It’s true that certain lifestyle issues might exacerbate your tinnitus ((as an example, drinking anything with caffeine can make it worse for many people). And there may be some foods that can temporarily diminish symptoms. But tinnitus can’t be “cured” for good by diet or lifestyle changes.
- Tinnitus can be cured: The desires of people who have tinnitus are exploited by the most prevalent forms of this misinformation. Tinnitus doesn’t have a miracle cure. You can, however, effectively handle your symptoms and maintain a high quality of life with treatment.
How to Uncover Accurate Information Concerning Your Hearing Concerns
Stopping the spread of misinformation is incredibly important, both for new tinnitus sufferers and for people who are already well acquainted with the symptoms. To protect themselves from misinformation there are several steps that people can take.
- Consult a hearing specialist or medical professional: If you’ve tried everything else, run the information you’ve found by a respected hearing specialist (preferably one familiar with your situation) to find out if there is any credibility to the claims.
- Look for sources: Try to learn what the sources of information are. Was the information written by or sourced from hearing professionals or medical experts? Is this information documented by reliable sources?
- If it’s too good to be true, it most likely isn’t. You most likely have a case of misinformation if a website or media post professes a miracle cure.
Something both profound and simple was once said by astrophysicist Carl Sagan: “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 shocking misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing concerns.
If you have read some information that you are uncertain of, make an appointment with a hearing care specialist.