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

You could be exposing yourself to startling misinformation about tinnitus or other hearing problems without ever recognizing it. This as reported by recent research published in The Hearing Journal. Tinnitus is surprisingly common. One in 5 US citizens struggles with tinnitus, so making sure people have access to correct, reliable information is essential. The web and social media, unfortunately, are full of this type of misinformation according to a new study.

How Can You Find Information About Tinnitus on Social Media?

If you’re researching tinnitus, or you have joined a tinnitus support community online, you aren’t alone. A good place to find like minded people is on social media. But there are very few gatekeepers dedicated to ensuring disseminated information is correct. According to one study:

  • Misinformation is found in 44% of public facebook pages
  • 34% of Twitter accounts were classified as containing misinformation
  • 30% of YouTube video results included misinformation

For anyone diagnosed with tinnitus, this quantity of misinformation can provide a difficult challenge: The misinformation presented is often enticing and checking facts can be time consuming. We simply want to believe it.

Tinnitus, What is it?

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 more than six months, it is called 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. You need to go over questions you have about your tinnitus with a reputable hearing professional.

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

  • If you’re deaf, you have tinnitus and if you have tinnitus, you will go deaf: The link between loss of hearing and tinnitus is real but it’s not universal. There are some medical issues which could cause tinnitus but otherwise leave your hearing intact.
  • There is a cure for tinnitus: The desires of people with tinnitus are exploited by the most prevalent forms of this misinformation. Tinnitus has no miracle cure. You can, however, effectively handle your symptoms and maintain a high quality of life with treatment.
  • Changes in diet will restore your hearing: It’s true that some lifestyle problems might exacerbate your tinnitus ((for instance, drinking anything that has 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 is triggered only by loud noises: The specific causes of tinnitus are not always perfectly understood or recorded. Lots of people, it’s true, have tinnitus as a direct result of trauma to the ears, the results of particularly severe or long-term loud noises. But traumatic brain damage, genetics, and other factors can also cause the development of tinnitus.
  • Tinnitus isn’t improved by hearing aids: Because tinnitus is experienced as a certain kind of buzzing or ringing in the ears, many people think that hearing aids won’t help. But modern hearing aids have been designed that can help you successfully regulate your tinnitus symptoms.

How to Find Accurate Facts Concerning Your Hearing Issues

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

  • A hearing expert or medical professional should be consulted. If you would like to determine if the information is reliable, and you’ve tried everything else, talk to a trusted hearing professional.
  • Look for sources: Try to determine what the sources of information are. Are there hearing professionals or medical professionals involved? Do dependable sources document the information?
  • 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 probably nothing but 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 separate information from misinformation, sharp critical thinking skills are your most useful defense against startling misinformation concerning tinnitus and other hearing concerns.

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