You might not realize it but you could be opening yourself to shocking misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing problems. This as reported by recent research published in The Hearing Journal. Tinnitus is remarkably common. One in 5 US citizens suffers from tinnitus, so ensuring people have access to correct, reliable information is important. The internet and social media, sadly, are full of this sort of misinformation according to new research.
How Can You Find Information About Tinnitus on Social Media?
If you’re looking into tinnitus, or you have joined a tinnitus support community online, you’re not alone. Social media is a very good place to find like minded people. But ensuring information is disseminated accurately is not very well regulated. According to one study:
- 30% of YouTube video results contained misinformation
- 34% of Twitter accounts were classified as containing misinformation
- Misinformation is contained in 44% of public facebook pages
This quantity of misinformation can be an overwhelming obstacle for anyone diagnosed with tinnitus: The misinformation provided is usually enticing and fact checking can be time consuming. We want to believe it.
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 lasts for longer than six months, it is known as chronic tinnitus.
Tinnitus And Hearing Loss, Common Misinformation
Many of these myths and mistruths, of course, are not invented by social media and the internet. But they do make spreading misinformation easier. You should always discuss concerns you have about your tinnitus with a reputable hearing specialist.
Why this misinformation spreads and how it can be challenged can be better understood by exposing some examples of it.
- There is a cure for tinnitus: One of the more prevalent forms of misinformation exploits the desires of individuals who have tinnitus. There is no “miracle pill” cure for tinnitus. You can, however, effectively handle your symptoms and retain a high quality of life with treatment.
- Changes in diet will restore your hearing: It’s true that your tinnitus can be exacerbated by certain 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 tinnitus can’t be “cured” for good by diet or lifestyle changes.
- Hearing aids can’t help with tinnitus: Lots of people assume hearing aids won’t help because tinnitus manifests as buzzing or ringing in the ears. But modern hearing aids have been designed that can help you successfully manage your tinnitus symptoms.
- You will go deaf if you have tinnitus, and if you are deaf you already have tinnitus: It’s true that in certain cases tinnitus and loss of hearing can be connected, but such a connection is not universal. Tinnitus can be triggered by certain sicknesses which leave overall hearing intact.
- Loud noises are the only cause of tinnitus: It’s really known and documented what the causes of tinnitus are. It’s true that really severe or long term noise exposure can cause tinnitus. But traumatic brain injuries, genetics, and other issues can also cause the development of tinnitus.
Correct Information About Your Hearing Loss is Available
For both new tinnitus sufferers and those well accustomed to the symptoms it’s essential to stop the spread of misinformation. To protect themselves from misinformation there are several steps that people can take.
- Consult a hearing expert or medical professional: If you would like to find out if the information is dependable, and you’ve tried everything else, talk to a trusted hearing specialist.
- If the information appears hard to believe, it probably isn’t true. Any website or social media post that professes knowledge of a miracle cure is almost certainly nothing but misinformation.
- Look for sources: Try to find out what the source of information is. Was the information written by or sourced from hearing specialists or medical experts? Do trustworthy sources document the information?
The astrophysicist Carl Sagan once said something both simple and profound: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” Until social media platforms more carefully distinguish information from misinformation, sharp critical thinking techniques are your best defense against alarming misinformation regarding tinnitus and other hearing issues.
set up an appointment with a hearing care expert if you’ve read some information you are unsure of.