Shocking False Information About Tinnitus And Other Hearing Problems

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

You could be exposing yourself to shocking misinformation regarding tinnitus or other hearing problems without ever recognizing it. This based on recent research published in The Hearing Journal. Tinnitus is remarkably common. Out of every 5 Americans one struggles with tinnitus, so it’s essential to make certain people have reliable, accurate information. The web and social media, unfortunately, 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 looking for other people who have tinnitus. Social media is a great place to build community. But there is very little oversight focused on ensuring disseminated information is truthful. According to one study:

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

This quantity of misinformation can be an overwhelming obstacle for anyone diagnosed with tinnitus: The misinformation provided is usually enticing and checking facts can be time consuming. 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. When this buzzing or ringing persists for longer than six months, it is called chronic tinnitus.

Tinnitus And Hearing Loss, Common Misinformation

Social media and the internet, obviously, did not invent many of these myths and mistruths. But they do make spreading misinformation easier. A reputable hearing professional should always be contacted with any questions you have about tinnitus.

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

  • 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 linked, but such a link is not universal. There are some medical concerns which could cause tinnitus but otherwise leave your hearing intact.
  • Tinnitus is caused only by loud noises: The precise causes of tinnitus are not really well understood or documented. It’s true that really severe or long term noise exposure can cause tinnitus. But traumatic brain injuries, genetics, and other factors can also cause the development of tinnitus.
  • Tinnitus isn’t helped by hearing aids: Many people assume hearing aids won’t help because tinnitus manifests as buzzing or ringing in the ears. But modern hearing aids have been developed that can help you successfully manage your tinnitus symptoms.
  • Changes in diet will restore your hearing: It’s true that some lifestyle issues may exacerbate your tinnitus (for many drinking anything that contains caffeine can make it worse, for example). And the symptoms can be lessened by eating some foods. But tinnitus can’t be “cured” for good by diet or lifestyle changes.
  • There is a cure for tinnitus: One of the most common forms of misinformation plays on the hopes of individuals 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.

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

  • If the information appears 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 find out what the source of information is. Are there hearing specialists or medical professionals involved? Do trustworthy sources document the information?
  • Consult a hearing specialist or medical professional: If you want to see if the information is trustworthy, and you’ve tried everything else, talk to a trusted hearing professional.

Something both profound and simple was once said by astrophysicist Carl Sagan: “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 alarming misinformation regarding tinnitus and other hearing issues.

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