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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 that backs this up. Tinnitus is remarkably common. One in 5 Americans has tinnitus, so it’s essential to make certain people have trustworthy, accurate information. Unfortunately, new research is stressing just how pervasive misinformation on the internet and social media is.

How Can You Find Information About Tinnitus on Social Media?

You aren’t alone if you are looking for other people with tinnitus. A great place to find like minded people is on social media. But there is very little oversight focused on ensuring displayed information is correct. According to one study:

  • There is misinformation in 30% of YouTube videos
  • 44% of public Facebook groups contained misinformation
  • 34% of Twitter accounts were categorized as having misinformation

For individuals diagnosed with tinnitus, this amount of misinformation can present a difficult challenge: Checking facts can be time-consuming and allot of the misinformation presented is, frankly, enticing. We simply want to believe it’s true.

Tinnitus, What is it?

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 more than six months, it is called chronic tinnitus.

Tinnitus And Hearing Loss, Common Misinformation

Social media and the internet, of course, didn’t invent many of these myths and mistruths. But spreading the misinformation is made easier with these tools. A trusted hearing specialist should always be consulted with any questions you have about tinnitus.

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

  • Your hearing can be improved by dietary changes: It’s true that certain lifestyle issues 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 tinnitus can’t be “cured” for good by diet or lifestyle changes.
  • Loud noises are the only trigger of tinnitus: It’s really known and understood what the causes of tinnitus are. Lots of people, it’s true, have tinnitus as an immediate result of trauma to the ears, the results of particularly extreme or long-term loud noises. But tinnitus can also be connected to other things like genetics, traumatic brain injury, and other factors.
  • Tinnitus can be cured: One of the most prevalent kinds of misinformation plays on the hopes of people who suffer from tinnitus. There isn’t a “miracle pill” cure for tinnitus. There are, however, treatment options that can assist in maintaining a high quality of life and effectively handle your symptoms.
  • If you’re deaf, you have tinnitus and if you have tinnitus, you will lose your hearing: The link between loss of hearing and tinnitus is real but it’s not universal. Tinnitus can be triggered by certain illnesses which leave overall hearing intact.
  • Tinnitus isn’t helped by hearing aids: Many people believe hearing aids won’t help because tinnitus manifests as ringing or buzzing in the ears. Your tinnitus can be successfully controlled by modern hearing aids.

Correct Information Concerning Your Hearing Loss is Available

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

  • 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? Do dependable sources document the information?
  • If it’s too good to be true, it most likely isn’t. You most likely have a case of misinformation if a website or media post professes a miracle cure.
  • A hearing expert or medical professional should be consulted. If you would like to determine if the information is trustworthy, 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 against shocking 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 expert if you’ve read some information you are not sure of.

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