Center For Better Hearing - Glens Falls, NY

Man looking up information on tinnitus in social media on his cell phone.

You could be exposing yourself to startling misinformation regarding tinnitus or other hearing problems without ever realizing it. The Hearing Journal has recently published research supporting this. Tinnitus is surprisingly common. Out of every 5 Americans one struggles with tinnitus, so ensuring people are given accurate, reliable information is important. The web and social media, sadly, are full of this kind of misinformation according to new research.

Finding Information About Tinnitus on Social Media

You’re not alone if you are searching for others who have tinnitus. A good place to find like minded people is on social media. But making sure information is displayed truthfully is not well regulated. According to one study:

  • There is misinformation contained in 30% of YouTube videos
  • Misinformation is found in 44% of public facebook pages
  • Out of all Twitter accounts, 34% contained what was categorized as misinformation

For anyone diagnosed with tinnitus, this amount of misinformation can present a difficult obstacle: The misinformation presented is often enticing and checking facts can be time consuming. We 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. 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, obviously, did not create many of these myths and mistruths. But spreading the misinformation is made easier with these tools. A trusted hearing specialist should always be contacted with any questions you have about tinnitus.

Debunking some examples may demonstrate why this misinformation spreads and how it can be challenged:

  • If you’re deaf, you have tinnitus and if you have tinnitus, you will go deaf: The link between hearing loss and tinnitus is real but it’s not universal. Tinnitus can be triggered by certain sicknesses which leave overall hearing untouched.
  • Tinnitus is triggered only by loud noises: The precise causes of tinnitus are not really perfectly understood or documented. It’s true that really harsh or long term noise exposure can lead to tinnitus. But tinnitus can also be connected to other things such as genetics, traumatic brain injury, and other factors.
  • Your hearing can be improved by dietary changes: It’s true that certain lifestyle problems may aggravate your tinnitus (for many drinking anything that contains caffeine can make it worse, for example). And the symptoms can be diminished by eating certain foods. But there is no diet or lifestyle change that will “cure” tinnitus for good.
  • There is a cure for tinnitus: The wishes of people with tinnitus are exploited by the most prevalent forms of this misinformation. Tinnitus has no miracle cure. There are, however, treatments that can help you maintain a high standard of life and effectively organize your symptoms.
  • Hearing aids won’t help with tinnitus: Lots of people assume hearing aids won’t help because tinnitus manifests as ringing or buzzing in the ears. But today’s hearing aids have been developed that can help you effectively manage your tinnitus symptoms.

How to Find Truthful Facts Concerning Your Hearing Problems

Stopping the spread of misinformation is extremely important, both for new tinnitus sufferers and for people who are already well acquainted with the symptoms. There are a few steps that people should take to try to protect themselves from misinformation:

  • A hearing expert or medical consultant should be consulted. If you want to see if the information is dependable, and you’ve tried everything else, run it by a trusted hearing professional.
  • If the information appears hard to believe, it probably isn’t true. Any website or social media post that claims to have knowledge of a miracle cure is probably little more than misinformation.
  • Look for sources: Try to find out where your information is coming from. Are there hearing professionals 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 most useful defense against alarming misinformation concerning tinnitus and other hearing issues.

If you have found some information that you are uncertain of, set up an appointment with a hearing care professional.

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