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 issues without ever realizing it. This according to recent research published in The Hearing Journal. Tinnitus is surprisingly common. One in 5 Americans has tinnitus, so making sure people have access to correct, reliable information is essential. The web and social media, sadly, are full of this sort of misinformation according to a new study.

Finding Information Regarding Tinnitus on Social Media

You aren’t alone if you are searching for other people who have tinnitus. A good place to build a community is on social media. But ensuring information is displayed accurately is not very well regulated. According to one study:

  • 44% of public Facebook groups contained misinformation
  • Out of all Twitter accounts, 34% had what was classified as misinformation
  • 30% of YouTube video results contained misinformation

This amount of misinformation can be an overwhelming challenge for anyone diagnosed with tinnitus: Checking facts can be time-consuming and too much of the misinformation introduced is, frankly, enticing. We simply 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. This buzzing or ringing is known as chronic tinnitus when it persists for more than six months.

Tinnitus And Hearing Loss, Common Misinformation

Many of these myths and mistruths, obviously, are not invented by the internet and social media. But they do make spreading misinformation easier. You need to discuss questions you have about your tinnitus with a reputable hearing specialist.

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

  • Tinnitus isn’t improved by hearing aids: Many people believe hearing aids won’t help because tinnitus manifests as buzzing or ringing in the ears. But newer hearing aids have been developed that can help you effectively regulate your tinnitus symptoms.
  • Tinnitus is triggered only by loud noises: The precise causes of tinnitus are not always well understood or recorded. Many people, it’s true, have tinnitus as an immediate outcome of trauma to the ears, the results of especially extreme or long-term loud noises. But tinnitus can also be linked to other things like genetics, traumatic brain injury, and other factors.
  • Your hearing can be restored by dietary changes: It’s true that your tinnitus can be exacerbated by certain lifestyle changes (for many drinking anything that contains 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.
  • You will lose your hearing 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 linked, but such a connection is not universal. There are some medical problems which could trigger tinnitus but otherwise leave your hearing intact.
  • Tinnitus can be cured: The wishes of individuals who have tinnitus are exploited by the most common forms of this misinformation. Tinnitus doesn’t have a miracle cure. There are, however, treatment options that can help you maintain a high quality of life and effectively handle your symptoms.

Correct Information About Your Hearing Loss is Available

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

  • Look for sources: Try to find out what the sources of information are. Was the information written by or sourced from hearing specialists or medical experts? Do reliable sources document the information?
  • If it’s too good to be true, it most likely isn’t. Any website or social media post that claims to have knowledge of a miracle cure is probably little more than misinformation.
  • A hearing expert or medical professional should be consulted. If you want to find out if the information is dependable, and you’ve tried everything else, talk to a trusted hearing specialist.

The astrophysicist Carl Sagan once said something both simple and profound: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” Not until social media platforms more carefully separate information from misinformation, sharp critical thinking skills are your most useful defense against shocking misinformation regarding tinnitus and other hearing issues.

set up an appointment with a hearing care professional if you’ve read some information you are uncertain of.