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

You might not know it but you could be opening yourself to shocking misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing issues. This as reported by recent research published in The Hearing Journal. Tinnitus is surprisingly common. One out of 5 Americans suffers from tinnitus, so it’s important to make sure people have reliable, correct information. Unfortunately, new research is emphasizing just how pervasive misinformation on the internet and social media can be.

How Can You Find Information About Tinnitus on Social Media?

If you’re researching tinnitus, or you have become a member of a tinnitus support community online, you’re not alone. A good place to build a community is on social media. But there is very little oversight focused on ensuring displayed information is truthful. According to one study:

  • 44% of public Facebook groups contained misinformation
  • 34% of Twitter accounts were classified 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: Checking facts can be time-consuming and allot of the misinformation presented 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 continues for more than six months, it is called chronic tinnitus.

Common Misinformation About Tinnitus and Hearing Loss

Many of these mistruths and myths, obviously, are not created by the internet and social media. But spreading the misinformation is made easier with these tools. You should always go over questions you have about your tinnitus with a reputable hearing specialist.

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

  • Your hearing can be improved by dietary changes: It’s true that some lifestyle problems may exacerbate your tinnitus ((for example, drinking anything that has caffeine can make it worse for many people). And there may be some foods that can temporarily diminish symptoms. But there is no diet or lifestyle change that will “cure” tinnitus for good.
  • If you’re deaf, you have tinnitus and if you have tinnitus, you will go deaf: It’s true that in some cases tinnitus and hearing loss can be linked, but such a connection is not universal. There are some medical issues which could trigger tinnitus but otherwise leave your hearing intact.
  • Tinnitus isn’t helped by hearing aids: Because tinnitus is experienced as a select kind of buzzing or ringing in the ears, many people assume that hearing aids won’t help. But modern hearing aids have been developed that can help you effectively regulate your tinnitus symptoms.
  • There is a cure for tinnitus: One of the most common forms of misinformation exploits the desires of people who suffer from tinnitus. Tinnitus doesn’t have a miracle cure. You can, however, effectively manage your symptoms and maintain a high quality of life with treatment.
  • Tinnitus is caused only by loud noises: It’s not well known and documented what the causes of tinnitus are. It’s true that very harsh or long term noise exposure can lead to tinnitus. But tinnitus can also be linked to other things such as genetics, traumatic brain injury, and other factors.

Accurate Information Concerning Your Hearing Loss is Available

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

  • If the information seems hard to believe, it most likely isn’t true. You most likely have a case of misinformation if a website or media post professes a miracle cure.
  • Look for sources: Try to determine what the sources of information are. Are there hearing specialists or medical professionals involved? Is this information documented by dependable sources?
  • Consult a hearing expert or medical professional: If you want to find out if the information is reliable, and you’ve tried everything else, run it by a respected hearing specialist.

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

If you have read some information that you are not certain of, schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional.