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

You could be exposing yourself to shocking misinformation regarding tinnitus or other hearing problems without ever recognizing it. This according to recent research published in The Hearing Journal. Allot more people have tinnitus than you might realize. One in 5 Americans suffers from tinnitus, so it’s essential to make certain people have trustworthy, correct information. The internet and social media, unfortunately, are full of this kind of misinformation according to a new study.

How Can You Find Information About Tinnitus on Social Media?

If you’re looking into tinnitus, or you have become a member of a tinnitus support community online, you aren’t alone. Social media is a great place to build community. But making sure information is disseminated correctly is not very well regulated. According to one study:

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

This quantity of misinformation can be a daunting challenge for anyone diagnosed with tinnitus: The misinformation presented is frequently enticing and fact checking can be time consuming. 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 persists for longer than six months, it is called chronic tinnitus.

Common 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. A trusted hearing specialist should always be consulted with any questions you have about tinnitus.

Why this misinformation spreads and how it can be challenged can be better comprehended by exposing some examples of it.

  • Tinnitus is caused only by loud noises: It’s not well known and understood what the causes of tinnitus are. It’s true that extremely extreme or long term noise exposure can lead to tinnitus. But traumatic brain damage, genetics, and other factors can also cause the development of tinnitus.
  • Changes in diet will restore your hearing: It’s true that your tinnitus can be aggravated by certain 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 there is no diet or lifestyle change that will “cure” tinnitus for good.
  • Tinnitus can be cured: One of the most common kinds of misinformation plays on the wishes of those who suffer from tinnitus. There isn’t a “miracle pill” cure for tinnitus. You can, however, effectively manage your symptoms and maintain a high quality of life with treatment.
  • You will lose your hearing if you have tinnitus, and if you are deaf you already have tinnitus: It’s true that in some cases tinnitus and hearing loss can be connected, but such a connection is not universal. There are some medical problems which could lead to tinnitus but otherwise leave your hearing untouched.
  • Tinnitus isn’t helped by hearing aids: Because tinnitus is experienced as a select kind of buzzing or ringing in the ears, many people think that hearing aids won’t be helpful. Your tinnitus can be successfully controlled by modern hearing aids.

Correct Information About Your Hearing Loss is Available

For both new tinnitus sufferers and people well acquainted with the symptoms it’s essential to stop the spread of misinformation. To shield themselves from misinformation there are a few steps that people can take.

  • If the information seems hard to believe, it probably isn’t true. Any website or social media post that professes knowledge of a miracle cure is probably nothing but misinformation.
  • Look for sources: Try to find out what the source of information is. 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 would like to see if the information is reliable, and you’ve tried everything else, run it by a trusted hearing professional.

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

set up an appointment with a hearing care specialist if you’ve read some information you are unsure of.

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