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

You might not recognize it but you could be exposing yourself to startling misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing issues. The Hearing Journal has recently published research that backs this up. Allot more people suffer from tinnitus than you may realize. Out of every 5 Us citizens one suffers from tinnitus, so ensuring people are given accurate, reliable information is essential. The web and social media, sadly, are full of this type of misinformation according to new research.

Finding Information About Tinnitus on Social Media

You’re not alone if you are searching for other people with tinnitus. Social media is a very good place to build community. But there are very few gatekeepers dedicated to ensuring displayed information is correct. According to one study:

  • 34% of Twitter accounts were classified as having misinformation
  • There is misinformation in 30% of YouTube videos
  • Misinformation is found in 44% of public facebook pages

This amount of misinformation can be an overwhelming obstacle for anyone diagnosed with tinnitus: The misinformation introduced is frequently enticing and checking facts can be time consuming. We 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. If this buzzing or ringing lasts for more than six months, it is known as chronic tinnitus.

Tinnitus And Hearing Loss, Common Misinformation

The internet and social media, of course, did not create many of these myths and mistruths. But spreading the misinformation is made easier with these tools. You need to go over questions you have about your tinnitus with a trusted hearing specialist.

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

  • There is a cure for tinnitus: One of the most common types of misinformation exploits the wishes of those who have tinnitus. There is no “miracle pill” cure for tinnitus. There are, however, treatment options that can assist in maintaining a high standard of life and effectively manage your symptoms.
  • Loud noises are the only trigger of tinnitus: It’s not well known and documented what the causes of tinnitus are. It’s true that extremely extreme or long term noise exposure can lead to tinnitus. But tinnitus can also be connected to other things such as genetics, traumatic brain injury, and other factors.
  • Changes in diet will restore your hearing: It’s true that your tinnitus can be aggravated by some lifestyle changes (for many consuming anything that has caffeine can make it worse, for example). And there may be some foods that can temporarily diminish symptoms. But tinnitus can’t be “cured” for good by diet or lifestyle changes.
  • If you’re deaf, you have tinnitus and if you have tinnitus, you will lose your hearing: The connection between loss of hearing and tinnitus is real but it’s not universal. Tinnitus can be triggered by certain sicknesses which leave overall hearing intact.
  • Hearing aids can’t help with tinnitus: Because tinnitus is experienced as a select kind of ringing or buzzing in the ears, lots of people think that hearing aids won’t help. Your tinnitus can be effectively managed by modern hearing aids.

How to Find Truthful Information About Your Hearing Problems

Stopping the spread of misinformation is incredibly 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 try to shield themselves from misinformation:

  • If it’s too good to be true, it most likely isn’t. Any website or social media post that professes knowledge of a miracle cure is almost certainly nothing but misinformation.
  • A hearing specialist or medical professional should be consulted. If you would like to find out if the information is trustworthy, and you’ve tried everything else, run it by a trusted hearing professional.
  • Look for sources: Try to find out what the source of information is. Are there hearing professionals or medical experts involved? Is this information documented by reliable sources?

Something both profound and simple was once said by astrophysicist Carl Sagan: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” Until social media platforms more carefully distinguish information from misinformation, sharp critical thinking techniques are your most useful defense against alarming misinformation regarding tinnitus and other hearing issues.

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

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