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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 realizing it. This based on recent research published in The Hearing Journal. Tinnitus is surprisingly common. Out of every 5 Americans one suffers from tinnitus, so it’s important to make certain people have trustworthy, correct information. The web and social media, unfortunately, are full of this type of misinformation according to new research.

How Can You Find Information About Tinnitus on Social Media?

You aren’t alone if you are searching for other people with tinnitus. A great place to build a community is on social media. But ensuring information is disseminated accurately is not well moderated. According to one study:

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

This amount of misinformation can be an overwhelming obstacle for anyone diagnosed with tinnitus: 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. This buzzing or ringing is called chronic tinnitus when it lasts for more than six months.

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 professional should always be contacted with any concerns you have about tinnitus.

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

  • Your hearing can be restored by dietary changes: It’s true that some lifestyle issues might aggravate 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 there is no diet or lifestyle change that will “cure” tinnitus for good.
  • Tinnitus is caused only by loud noises: It’s not well known and understood what the causes of tinnitus are. It’s true that really harsh 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.
  • You will lose your hearing if you have tinnitus, and if you are deaf you already have tinnitus: The link between loss of hearing and tinnitus does exist but it’s not universal. Tinnitus can be caused by certain conditions which leave overall hearing intact.
  • Tinnitus can be cured: One of the more prevalent 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 handle your symptoms.
  • Hearing aids can’t help with tinnitus: Because tinnitus is experienced as a certain kind of ringing or buzzing in the ears, lots of people believe that hearing aids won’t be helpful. But today’s hearing aids have been developed that can help you successfully regulate your tinnitus symptoms.

How to Find Truthful Facts Concerning Your Hearing Issues

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

  • Look for sources: Try to determine what the sources of information are. Are there hearing professionals or medical professionals involved? Do trustworthy sources document the information?
  • If the information seems hard to believe, it most likely isn’t true. Any website or social media post that professes knowledge of a miracle cure is probably little more than misinformation.
  • Check with a hearing expert or medical professional: If all else fails, run the information you’ve found by a respected hearing specialist (preferably one familiar with your case) to find out if there is any credibility to the claims.

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

set up an appointment with a hearing care specialist if you’ve read some information you are not certain of.

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