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

You might not know it but you could be exposing yourself to shocking 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 might realize. One in 5 US citizens has tinnitus, so it’s essential to make certain people have reliable, accurate information. Unfortunately, new research is emphasizing just how pervasive misinformation on the web and social media is.

How Can You Find Information About Tinnitus on Social Media?

If you’re researching tinnitus, or you have joined a tinnitus support group online, you aren’t alone. A great place to find like minded people is on social media. But ensuring information is disseminated correctly is not well moderated. According to one study:

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

This quantity of misinformation can be a daunting obstacle for anyone diagnosed with tinnitus: Checking facts can be time-consuming and allot of the misinformation presented is, frankly, enticing. 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 lasts for longer 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. A trusted hearing specialist should always be consulted with any questions you have concerning tinnitus.

Debunking some examples may demonstrate 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: The connection between hearing loss and tinnitus does exist but it’s not universal. Tinnitus can be caused by certain sicknesses which leave overall hearing intact.
  • Tinnitus is triggered only by loud noises: It’s not well known and documented what the causes of tinnitus are. It’s true that extremely severe 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.
  • Hearing aids won’t help with tinnitus: Many people believe hearing aids won’t help because tinnitus is experienced as buzzing or ringing in the ears. But today’s hearing aids have been designed that can help you effectively regulate your tinnitus symptoms.
  • There is a cure for tinnitus: The hopes of individuals with tinnitus are exploited by the most prevalent types of this misinformation. There is no “miracle pill” cure for tinnitus. You can, however, effectively handle your symptoms and maintain a high quality of life with treatment.
  • Changes in diet will improve your hearing: It’s true that certain lifestyle issues might exacerbate your tinnitus (for many drinking anything that contains 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.

Accurate Information Concerning Your Hearing Loss is Available

For both new tinnitus sufferers and people well accustomed to the symptoms it’s essential to stop the spread of misinformation. There are several steps that people should take to try to protect themselves from misinformation:

  • Look for sources: Try to find out what the source of information is. Was the information written by or sourced from hearing professionals or medical experts? Do trustworthy sources document the information?
  • A hearing expert or medical professional should be consulted. If you would like to find out if the information is reliable, and you’ve tried everything else, talk to a respected hearing professional.
  • If the information seems hard to believe, it probably isn’t true. You most likely have a case of misinformation if a website or media post professes a miracle cure.

The astrophysicist Carl Sagan once said something both simple and profound: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” Sharp critical thinking techniques are your strongest defense against Startling misinformation concerning tinnitus and other hearing issues at least until social media platforms more rigorously distinguish information from misinformation

If you have read some information that you are unsure of, schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional.

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