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

You could be opening yourself to shocking misinformation regarding tinnitus or other hearing problems without ever realizing it. This as reported by recent research published in The Hearing Journal. Tinnitus is surprisingly common. One out of 5 Americans has tinnitus, so ensuring people are given correct, trustworthy information is important. Unfortunately, new research is stressing just how prevalent misinformation on the web and social media can be.

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’re not alone. Social media is a very good place to find like minded people. But there is very little oversight dedicated to ensuring displayed information is accurate. According to one study:

  • 44% of public Facebook groups had misinformation
  • 30% of YouTube video results contained misinformation
  • 34% of Twitter accounts were categorized as having misinformation

For anyone diagnosed with tinnitus, this quantity of misinformation can present a daunting obstacle: Checking facts can be time-consuming and a large amount 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. If this buzzing or ringing lasts for more than six months, it is known as chronic tinnitus.

Tinnitus And Hearing Loss, Common Misinformation

Many of these mistruths and myths, of course, are not invented by social media and the internet. But spreading the misinformation is made easier with these tools. A trusted hearing specialist should always be contacted with any concerns you have about tinnitus.

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

  • Tinnitus is caused only by loud noises: The specific causes of tinnitus are not really perfectly understood or documented. Many people, it’s true, have tinnitus as an immediate outcome 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.
  • Changes in diet will improve your hearing: It’s true that certain lifestyle issues might exacerbate your tinnitus ((for instance, drinking anything with 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.
  • Tinnitus isn’t helped by hearing aids: Many people assume hearing aids won’t be helpful because tinnitus is experienced as buzzing or ringing in the ears. Your tinnitus can be effectively controlled by modern hearing aids.
  • If you’re deaf, you have tinnitus and if you have tinnitus, you will go deaf: It’s true that in some cases tinnitus and loss of hearing can be connected, but such a connection is not universal. Tinnitus can be caused by certain illnesses which leave overall hearing intact.
  • Tinnitus can be cured: One of the most common kinds 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 quality of life and effectively manage your symptoms.

Correct Information Concerning Your Hearing Loss is Available

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

  • Look for sources: Try to find out what the sources of information are. Are there hearing specialists or medical experts involved? Is this information documented by reliable sources?
  • Check with a hearing expert or medical professional: If you’ve tried everything else, run the information you’ve found by a respected hearing professional (if possible one acquainted with your situation) to see if there is any validity to the claims.
  • If the information seems hard to believe, it probably isn’t true. You probably have a case of misinformation if a website or media post professes a miracle cure.

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 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 uncertain of.

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