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

You might not recognize it but you could be exposing yourself to startling misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing problems. The Hearing Journal has recently published research that backs this up. Tinnitus is remarkably common. One out of 5 US citizens suffers from tinnitus, so it’s important to make certain people have reliable, correct information. Unfortunately, new research is stressing just how pervasive misinformation on the internet and social media is.

Finding Information Regarding Tinnitus on Social Media

You aren’t alone if you are searching for other people who have tinnitus. Social media is a very good place to find like minded people. But making sure information is displayed accurately is not very well moderated. According to one study:

  • Misinformation is found in 44% of public facebook pages
  • 34% of Twitter accounts were categorized as containing misinformation
  • There is misinformation contained in 30% of YouTube videos

This quantity 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’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 lasts for longer than six months, it is known as chronic tinnitus.

Tinnitus And Hearing Loss, Common Misinformation

Many of these mistruths and myths, obviously, are not invented by social media and the internet. But spreading the misinformation is made easier with these tools. A reputable hearing professional should always be contacted with any concerns you have about tinnitus.

Why this misinformation spreads and how it can be challenged can be better understood by debunking some examples of it.

  • Your hearing can be restored by dietary changes: It’s true that your tinnitus can be aggravated by certain lifestyle changes ((for instance, drinking anything with caffeine can make it worse for many people). And the symptoms can be diminished by eating some foods. But there is no diet or lifestyle change that will “cure” tinnitus for good.
  • Tinnitus can be cured: One of the most prevalent types of misinformation plays on the wishes of individuals who have tinnitus. Tinnitus has no miracle cure. There are, however, treatment options that can help you maintain a high quality of life and effectively organize your symptoms.
  • Hearing aids won’t help with tinnitus: Because tinnitus manifests as a select kind of ringing or buzzing in the ears, many people think that hearing aids won’t be helpful. Your tinnitus can be successfully controlled by modern hearing aids.
  • If you’re deaf, you have tinnitus and if you have tinnitus, you will lose your hearing: It’s true that in certain cases tinnitus and loss of hearing can be connected, but such a link is not universal. There are some medical issues which could cause tinnitus but otherwise leave your hearing intact.
  • Tinnitus is triggered only by loud noises: It’s not well known and understood what the causes of tinnitus are. Many people, it’s true, have tinnitus as an immediate result of trauma to the ears, the results of particularly harsh or long-term loud noises. But tinnitus can also be linked to other things like genetics, traumatic brain injury, and other factors.

Accurate Information About Your Hearing Loss is Available

For both new tinnitus sufferers and those well acquainted with the symptoms it’s important to stop the spread of misinformation. There are a few steps that people can take to try to protect themselves from misinformation:

  • Look for sources: Try to find out what the sources of information are. Are there hearing specialists or medical professionals involved? Is this information documented by dependable sources?
  • A hearing specialist or medical consultant should be consulted. If you’ve tried everything else, run the information you’ve found by a respected hearing professional (if possible one acquainted with your situation) to see if there is any credibility to the claims.
  • If it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t. You probably have a case of misinformation if a website or media post claims to have a miracle cure.

The astrophysicist Carl Sagan once said something both simple and profound: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” Sharp critical thinking skills are your strongest defense from alarming misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing Concerns at least until social media platforms more carefully distinguish information from misinformation

Make an appointment with a hearing care professional if you’ve read some information you are unsure of.