You might not recognize it but you could be opening yourself to shocking misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing issues. This as reported by recent research published in The Hearing Journal. Allot more people have tinnitus than you might think. One in 5 Americans struggles with tinnitus, so it’s essential to make sure people have trustworthy, accurate information. Unfortunately, new research is emphasizing just how prevalent misinformation on the web and social media is.
How Can You Find Information About Tinnitus on Social Media?
If you’re looking into tinnitus, or you have joined a tinnitus support group online, you aren’t alone. Social media is a very good place to find like minded people. But ensuring information is disseminated accurately is not well moderated. According to one study:
- 30% of YouTube video results included misinformation
- 44% of public Facebook groups had misinformation
- Out of all Twitter accounts, 34% had what was categorized as misinformation
This amount of misinformation can be an overwhelming challenge for anyone diagnosed with tinnitus: Fact-checking can be time-consuming and a large amount of the misinformation provided 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. When this buzzing or ringing continues for longer than six months, it is known as chronic tinnitus.
Common Misinformation About Tinnitus and Hearing Loss
The internet and social media, obviously, didn’t invent many of these myths and mistruths. 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 may illustrate why this misinformation spreads and how it can be challenged:
- Your hearing can be improved by dietary changes: It’s true that your tinnitus can be exacerbated by some lifestyle changes (for many drinking anything that has caffeine can make it worse, for example). 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.
- There is a cure for tinnitus: The wishes of those with tinnitus are exploited by the most prevalent kinds of this misinformation. There isn’t a “miracle pill” cure for tinnitus. There are, however, treatment options that can assist in maintaining a high quality of life and effectively regulate your symptoms.
- Loud noises are the only trigger of tinnitus: The specific causes of tinnitus are not always well understood or documented. It’s true that extremely harsh 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.
- You will lose your hearing if you have tinnitus, and if you are deaf you already have tinnitus: The link between loss of hearing and tinnitus is real but it’s not universal. Tinnitus can be caused by certain ailments which leave overall hearing intact.
- Tinnitus isn’t improved by hearing aids: Many people believe hearing aids won’t help because tinnitus is experienced as buzzing or ringing in the ears. But modern hearing aids have been designed that can help you successfully manage your tinnitus symptoms.
Correct Information About 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 accustomed to the symptoms. To shield themselves from misinformation there are a few steps that people can take.
- 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 dependable sources?
- If the information seems hard to believe, it most likely isn’t true. Any website or social media post that claims to have knowledge of a miracle cure is almost certainly nothing but misinformation.
- Check with a hearing expert or medical professional: If you want to determine if the information is reliable, and you’ve tried everything else, run it by a respected hearing professional.
The astrophysicist Carl Sagan once said something both simple and profound: “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 shocking misinformation concerning tinnitus and other hearing concerns.
set up an appointment with a hearing care specialist if you’ve read some information you are unsure of.