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

You may not recognize it but you could be opening yourself to shocking misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing problems. The Hearing Journal has recently published research supporting this. Tinnitus is remarkably common. One out of 5 Americans suffers from tinnitus, so making sure people have access to accurate, trustworthy information is important. The web and social media, sadly, are full of this sort of misinformation according to a new study.

Finding Information Regarding Tinnitus on Social Media

You’re not 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 moderated. According to one study:

  • Out of all Twitter accounts, 34% had what was classified as misinformation
  • Misinformation is found in 44% of public facebook pages
  • 30% of YouTube video results included misinformation

This amount of misinformation can be an overwhelming obstacle for anyone diagnosed with tinnitus: Fact-checking can be time-consuming and too much of the misinformation introduced is, frankly, enticing. We want to believe it.

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 continues for more than six months.

Prevailing Misinformation About Tinnitus and Hearing Loss

Social media and the internet, obviously, didn’t create many of these myths and mistruths. But they do make spreading misinformation easier. A trusted hearing specialist should always be contacted with any concerns you have about tinnitus.

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

  • Tinnitus can be cured: One of the more common kinds of misinformation exploits the wishes of those who have tinnitus. Tinnitus doesn’t have a miracle cure. There are, however, treatments that can help you maintain a high quality of life and effectively handle your symptoms.
  • Tinnitus is triggered only by loud noises: It’s really known and understood what the causes of tinnitus are. It’s true that very harsh or long term noise exposure can cause tinnitus. But tinnitus can also be linked to other things like genetics, traumatic brain injury, and other factors.
  • You will go deaf if you have tinnitus, and if you are deaf you already have tinnitus: The connection between hearing loss and tinnitus is real but it’s not universal. There are some medical issues which could lead to tinnitus but otherwise leave your hearing intact.
  • Hearing aids won’t help with tinnitus: Lots of people believe hearing aids won’t be helpful because tinnitus manifests as ringing or buzzing in the ears. But today’s hearing aids have been designed that can help you successfully manage your tinnitus symptoms.
  • Changes in diet will restore your hearing: It’s true that your tinnitus can be exacerbated by certain lifestyle changes ((for instance, having anything that has caffeine can make it worse for many people). 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.

Correct Information About Your Hearing Loss is Available

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

  • If the information appears hard to believe, it most likely isn’t true. You probably have a case of misinformation if a website or media post claims to have a miracle cure.
  • A hearing specialist or medical consultant should be consulted. If you want to see if the information is reliable, and you’ve tried everything else, talk to a trusted hearing professional.
  • Look for sources: Try to learn what the sources of information are. Are there hearing professionals or medical experts involved? Do trustworthy sources document the information?

Something both profound and simple was once said by astrophysicist Carl Sagan: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” acute critical thinking techniques are your best defense from shocking misinformation concerning tinnitus and other hearing issues at least until social media platforms more carefully distinguish information from misinformation

If you have found some information that you are not certain of, set up an appointment with a hearing care specialist.

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