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

You may not realize it but you could be exposing yourself to shocking misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing problems. The Hearing Journal has recently published research supporting this. Allot more people have tinnitus than you may think. One in 5 US citizens struggles with tinnitus, so ensuring people are given accurate, reliable information is essential. Unfortunately, new research is stressing 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 other people with tinnitus. Social media is a very good place to build community. But there are very few gatekeepers focused on ensuring disseminated information is accurate. According to one study:

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

This quantity of misinformation can be a daunting obstacle for anyone diagnosed with tinnitus: The misinformation presented is often enticing and checking facts can be time consuming. We simply want to believe it.

What Is Tinnitus?

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 called chronic tinnitus when it continues for more than six months.

Prevailing Misinformation About Tinnitus and Hearing Loss

The internet and social media, of course, did not invent many of these myths and mistruths. But spreading the misinformation is made easier with these tools. A trusted hearing professional should always be consulted with any questions you have concerning tinnitus.

Exposing some examples might demonstrate why this misinformation spreads and how it can be challenged:

  • Changes in diet will improve your hearing: It’s true that your tinnitus can be aggravated by certain lifestyle changes ((for example, drinking anything with 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 is caused only by loud noises: It’s not well known and understood what the causes of tinnitus are. Many people, it’s true, suffer tinnitus as an immediate outcome of trauma to the ears, the results of especially extreme or long-term loud noises. But traumatic brain damage, genetics, and other factors can also cause the development of tinnitus.
  • If you’re deaf, you have tinnitus and if you have tinnitus, you will go deaf: The link between hearing loss and tinnitus does exist but it’s not universal. There are some medical concerns which could lead to tinnitus but otherwise leave your hearing untouched.
  • Tinnitus isn’t improved by hearing aids: Lots of people believe hearing aids won’t be helpful because tinnitus is experienced as buzzing or ringing in the ears. Your tinnitus can be effectively managed by modern hearing aids.
  • Tinnitus can be cured: The hopes 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 retain a high quality of life with treatment.

Accurate Information About Your Hearing Loss is Available

Stopping the spread of misinformation is extremely important, both for new tinnitus sufferers and for those who are already well accustomed to the symptoms. There are a few steps that people can take to attempt to shield themselves from misinformation:

  • Check with a hearing specialist or medical professional: If you’ve tried everything else, run the information you’ve found by a respected hearing specialist (if possible one familiar with your situation) to see if there is any validity to the claims.
  • Look for sources: Try to determine what the sources of information are. Was the information written by or sourced from hearing professionals or medical experts? Is this information documented by dependable sources?
  • If it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t. You most likely have a case of misinformation if a website or media post claims to have a miracle cure.

Something both profound and simple was once said by astrophysicist Carl Sagan: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” Sharp critical thinking techniques are your best defense from Startling misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing issues at least until social media platforms more rigorously distinguish information from misinformation

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