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

You might not realize it but you could be opening yourself to shocking misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing problems. The Hearing Journal has recently published research that backs this up. Allot more people have tinnitus than you may realize. One in 5 Americans has tinnitus, so it’s essential to make certain people have trustworthy, accurate information. The internet and social media, unfortunately, are full of this type of misinformation according to a new study.

How Can You Find Information About Tinnitus on Social Media?

If you’re looking into tinnitus, or you have joined a tinnitus support group online, you aren’t alone. A good place to find like minded people is on social media. But there are very few gatekeepers focused on ensuring displayed information is truthful. According to one study:

  • Out of all Twitter accounts, 34% included what was classified as misinformation
  • 44% of public Facebook groups had misinformation
  • There is misinformation in 30% of YouTube videos

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

Common Misinformation About Tinnitus and Hearing Loss

The internet and social media, obviously, didn’t create many of these myths and mistruths. But they do make spreading misinformation easier. You need to go over concerns you have about your tinnitus with a trusted hearing professional.

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

  • There is a cure for tinnitus: One of the most common types of misinformation plays on the hopes of individuals who have tinnitus. There is no “miracle pill” cure for tinnitus. You can, however, successfully handle your symptoms and retain a high quality of life with treatment.
  • Changes in diet will improve your hearing: It’s true that your tinnitus can be aggravated by some lifestyle changes (for many drinking anything that contains caffeine can make it worse, for example). And the symptoms can be decreased by eating some foods. 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 some cases tinnitus and hearing loss can be connected, but such a link is not universal. Tinnitus can be triggered by certain ailments which leave overall hearing intact.
  • Loud noises are the only cause of tinnitus: It’s not well known and documented what the causes of tinnitus are. It’s true that really severe or long term noise exposure can cause tinnitus. But traumatic brain damage, genetics, and other factors can also lead to the development of tinnitus.
  • Hearing aids can’t help with tinnitus: Lots of people believe hearing aids won’t help because tinnitus is experienced as buzzing or ringing in the ears. Your tinnitus can be successfully controlled by modern hearing aids.

How to Find Accurate Information 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. To shield themselves from misinformation there are several steps that people can take.

  • If it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t. 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 get a feel for where your information is coming from. Was the information written by or sourced from hearing professionals or medical experts? Is this information documented by dependable sources?
  • Consult a hearing expert or medical professional: If you would like to determine if the information is reliable, and you’ve tried everything else, talk to a trusted hearing specialist.

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

If you have read some information that you are not certain of, set up an appointment with a hearing care specialist.