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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 remarkably common. Out of every 5 Americans one struggles with tinnitus, so making sure people have access to correct, trustworthy information is important. The web and social media, unfortunately, are full of this type of misinformation according to a new study.

Finding Information Regarding Tinnitus on Social Media

If you’re researching 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 there is very little oversight dedicated to ensuring disseminated information is correct. According to one study:

  • There is misinformation contained in 30% of YouTube videos
  • Misinformation is contained in 44% of public facebook pages
  • 34% of Twitter accounts were classified as having misinformation

This quantity of misinformation can be an overwhelming obstacle for anyone diagnosed with tinnitus: The misinformation presented is frequently enticing and checking facts can be time consuming. We simply 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. If this buzzing or ringing lasts for longer than six months, it is known as chronic tinnitus.

Common Misinformation About Tinnitus and Hearing Loss

The internet and social media, obviously, did not create many of these myths and mistruths. But spreading the misinformation is made easier with these tools. You need to go over concerns you have about your tinnitus with a reputable hearing professional.

Exposing some examples might show why this misinformation spreads and how it can be challenged:

  • Hearing aids won’t help with tinnitus: Many people assume hearing aids won’t be helpful because tinnitus manifests as buzzing or ringing in the ears. But modern hearing aids have been developed that can help you effectively manage your tinnitus symptoms.
  • Your hearing can be restored by dietary changes: It’s true that some lifestyle issues may aggravate your tinnitus ((for example, having 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.
  • 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 loss of hearing can be connected, but such a link is not universal. There are some medical concerns which could lead to tinnitus but otherwise leave your hearing intact.
  • Tinnitus can be cured: One of the more common forms of misinformation plays on the wishes of people who have 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.
  • Tinnitus is caused only by loud noises: It’s really known and documented what the causes of tinnitus are. Many people, it’s true, have tinnitus as a direct result of trauma to the ears, the results of especially severe or long-term loud noises. But traumatic brain damage, genetics, and other issues can also result in the development of tinnitus.

How to Find Truthful Facts About Your Hearing Problems

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 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 claims to have knowledge of a miracle cure is almost certainly little more than misinformation.
  • A hearing specialist or medical consultant should be consulted. If you’ve tried everything else, run the information that you found by a respected hearing professional (ideally one familiar with your case) to find out if there is any validity to the claims.
  • Look for sources: Try to get a feel for what the source of information is. Are there hearing professionals or medical professionals involved? Is this information documented by dependable sources?

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

Make an appointment with a hearing care professional if you’ve read some information you are uncertain of.

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