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

You could be opening yourself to startling misinformation regarding tinnitus or other hearing problems without ever recognizing it. This as reported by recent research published in The Hearing Journal. Tinnitus is surprisingly common. Out of every 5 Americans one has tinnitus, so it’s essential to make sure people have reliable, correct information. Sadly, new research is emphasizing just how prevalent misinformation on the web and social media is.

How Can You Find Information About Tinnitus on Social Media?

If you’re looking into tinnitus, or you have joined a tinnitus support community online, you aren’t alone. A great place to build a community is on social media. But ensuring information is disseminated truthfully is not well moderated. According to one study:

  • 44% of public Facebook groups had misinformation
  • 30% of YouTube video results included misinformation
  • Out of all Twitter accounts, 34% had what was categorized as misinformation

This amount of misinformation can be an overwhelming challenge for anyone diagnosed with tinnitus: The misinformation introduced is frequently 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. If this buzzing or ringing persists for longer than six months, it is known as chronic tinnitus.

Prevailing Misinformation Concerning Tinnitus and Hearing Loss

Social media and the internet, of course, did not invent many of these myths and mistruths. But they do make spreading misinformation easier. You should always discuss concerns you have about your tinnitus with a reputable hearing professional.

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

  • Loud noises are the only trigger of tinnitus: It’s really known and understood what the causes of tinnitus are. It’s true that very severe or long term noise exposure can lead to tinnitus. But traumatic brain injuries, genetics, and other factors can also lead to the development of tinnitus.
  • Tinnitus isn’t improved by hearing aids: Because tinnitus is experienced as a select kind of buzzing or ringing in the ears, lots of people assume that hearing aids won’t be helpful. Your tinnitus can be successfully managed by today’s hearing aids.
  • Your hearing can be restored by dietary changes: It’s true that certain lifestyle issues may exacerbate your tinnitus (for many drinking anything that has caffeine can make it worse, for example). 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.
  • You will go deaf if you have tinnitus, and if you are deaf you already have tinnitus: It’s true that in some cases tinnitus and loss of hearing can be connected, but such a link is not universal. There are some medical concerns which could cause tinnitus but otherwise leave your hearing untouched.
  • Tinnitus can be cured: One of the most common forms of misinformation plays on the hopes of individuals who suffer from tinnitus. Tinnitus has no miracle cure. There are, however, treatment options that can help you maintain a high standard of life and effectively regulate your symptoms.

Accurate Information About Your Hearing Loss is Available

Stopping the spread of misinformation is extremely important, both for new tinnitus sufferers and for people who are already well accustomed to the symptoms. To protect themselves from misinformation there are several steps that people can take.

  • Look for sources: Try to get a feel for what the source of information is. Was the information written by or sourced from hearing professionals or medical experts? Is this information documented by dependable sources?
  • A hearing specialist or medical consultant should be consulted. If you want to determine if the information is reliable, and you’ve tried everything else, run it by a respected hearing professional.
  • 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 almost certainly little more than misinformation.

Something both profound and simple was once said by astrophysicist Carl Sagan: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” Not until social media platforms more carefully distinguish information from misinformation, sharp critical thinking skills are your best defense against alarming misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing issues.

Make an appointment with a hearing care professional if you’ve read some information you are uncertain of.

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