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

You could be exposing yourself to shocking misinformation about tinnitus or other hearing problems without ever recognizing it. The Hearing Journal has recently published research supporting this. Tinnitus is surprisingly common. One in 5 Americans suffers from tinnitus, so it’s essential to make sure people have reliable, accurate information. Unfortunately, new research is stressing just how prevalent misinformation on the internet and social media can be.

Finding Information Regarding Tinnitus on Social Media

You aren’t alone if you are looking for others who have tinnitus. Social media is a very good place to build community. But ensuring information is displayed truthfully is not well regulated. According to one study:

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

For anyone diagnosed with tinnitus, this amount of misinformation can present a difficult obstacle: The misinformation presented is often enticing and checking facts can be time consuming. We 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. This buzzing or ringing is called chronic tinnitus when it persists for more than six months.

Tinnitus And Hearing Loss, Common Misinformation

Many of these mistruths and myths, obviously, are not invented by social media and the internet. But spreading the misinformation is made easier with these tools. You need to discuss concerns you have about your tinnitus with a reputable hearing specialist.

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

  • Tinnitus isn’t improved by hearing aids: Because tinnitus manifests as a select kind of buzzing or ringing in the ears, lots of people believe that hearing aids won’t help. But modern hearing aids have been designed that can help you effectively manage your tinnitus symptoms.
  • If you’re deaf, you have tinnitus and if you have tinnitus, you will lose your hearing: The connection between hearing loss and tinnitus is real but it’s not universal. Tinnitus can be caused by certain sicknesses which leave overall hearing intact.
  • Loud noises are the only cause of tinnitus: The precise causes of tinnitus are not always perfectly understood or documented. 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 tinnitus can also be linked to other things such as genetics, traumatic brain injury, and other factors.
  • Changes in diet will restore your hearing: It’s true that your tinnitus can be exacerbated by some lifestyle changes ((as an example, having anything with caffeine can make it worse for many people). And the symptoms can be decreased by eating certain foods. But tinnitus can’t be “cured” for good by diet or lifestyle changes.
  • Tinnitus can be cured: One of the more prevalent forms of misinformation exploits the wishes of individuals who suffer from tinnitus. There isn’t a “miracle pill” cure for tinnitus. You can, however, successfully manage your symptoms and retain a high quality of life with treatment.

How to Uncover Accurate Facts Concerning Your Hearing Issues

For both new tinnitus sufferers and those well acquainted with the symptoms it’s essential to stop the spread of misinformation. There are a few steps that people should take to attempt to protect themselves from misinformation:

  • Check with a hearing specialist or medical professional: If you’ve tried everything else, run the information that you found by a trusted hearing specialist (preferably one acquainted with your case) to find out if there is any validity to the claims.
  • If it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t. You probably have a case of misinformation if a website or media post claims to have a miracle cure.
  • Look for sources: Try to find out what the sources of information are. Are there hearing professionals or medical experts involved? Is this information documented by dependable sources?

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 against shocking misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing Concerns at least until social media platforms more rigorously distinguish information from misinformation

If you have read some information that you are not certain of, make an appointment with a hearing care professional.

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