You could be opening yourself to shocking misinformation regarding tinnitus or other hearing issues without ever realizing it. This according to recent research published in The Hearing Journal. Tinnitus is remarkably common. One out of 5 US citizens has tinnitus, so it’s important to make sure people have reliable, correct information. Unfortunately, new research is emphasizing just how prevalent misinformation on the web and social media can be.
How Can You Find Information About Tinnitus on Social Media?
You aren’t alone if you are looking for others who have tinnitus. A good place to find like minded people is on social media. But making sure information is displayed correctly is not well moderated. According to one study:
- There is misinformation in 30% of YouTube videos
- 44% of public Facebook groups contained misinformation
- 34% of Twitter accounts were classified as having misinformation
This amount of misinformation can be an overwhelming obstacle for anyone diagnosed with tinnitus: Fact-checking can be time-consuming and a large amount of the misinformation provided is, frankly, enticing. 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. If this buzzing or ringing persists for longer than six months, it is called chronic tinnitus.
Tinnitus And Hearing Loss, Common Misinformation
The internet and social media, of course, didn’t invent many of these myths and mistruths. But they do make spreading misinformation easier. You should always go over questions you have about your tinnitus with a reputable hearing professional.
Why this misinformation spreads and how it can be challenged can be better understood by exposing some examples of it.
- Tinnitus is triggered only by loud noises: It’s really known and documented what the causes of tinnitus are. It’s true that extremely extreme or long term noise exposure can lead to tinnitus. But traumatic brain damage, genetics, and other issues can also result in the development of tinnitus.
- You will go deaf if you have tinnitus, and if you are deaf you already have tinnitus: It’s true that in some cases tinnitus and hearing loss can be linked, but such a link is not universal. There are some medical concerns which could cause tinnitus but otherwise leave your hearing intact.
- Tinnitus isn’t improved by hearing aids: Because tinnitus is experienced as a select kind of buzzing or ringing in the ears, lots of people assume that hearing aids won’t help. Your tinnitus can be effectively managed by today’s hearing aids.
- Your hearing can be improved by dietary changes: It’s true that your tinnitus can be aggravated by certain lifestyle changes ((for example, drinking anything that has caffeine can make it worse for many people). 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: The desires of those who have tinnitus are exploited by the most prevalent kinds of this misinformation. Tinnitus has no miracle cure. You can, however, effectively handle your symptoms and maintain a high quality of life with treatment.
Correct Information Concerning Your Hearing Loss is Available
For both new tinnitus sufferers and those well accustomed to the symptoms it’s crucial to stop the spread of misinformation. There are a few steps that people should take to attempt to shield themselves from misinformation:
- If it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t. Any website or social media post that claims to have knowledge of a miracle cure is almost certainly nothing but misinformation.
- A hearing expert or medical consultant should be consulted. If you would like to see if the information is trustworthy, and you’ve tried everything else, talk to a trusted hearing professional.
- Look for sources: Try to find out what the sources of information are. Are there hearing specialists or medical experts involved? Do dependable sources document the information?
Something both profound and simple was once said by astrophysicist Carl Sagan: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” Until social media platforms more rigorously distinguish information from misinformation, sharp critical thinking skills are your best defense against startling misinformation concerning tinnitus and other hearing issues.
If you have found some information that you are not certain of, make an appointment with a hearing care specialist.