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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 startling misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing problems. This according to recent research published in The Hearing Journal. Allot more people suffer from tinnitus than you might recognize. One in 5 US citizens suffers from tinnitus, so it’s important to make certain people have trustworthy, correct information. Unfortunately, new research is emphasizing just how pervasive misinformation on the internet and social media can be.

Finding Information Regarding Tinnitus on Social Media

You’re not alone if you are looking for other people who have tinnitus. A great place to build a community is on social media. But ensuring information is disseminated truthfully is not very well moderated. According to one study:

  • 34% of Twitter accounts were categorized as having misinformation
  • There is misinformation contained in 30% of YouTube videos
  • 44% of public Facebook groups had misinformation

For anyone diagnosed with tinnitus, this quantity of misinformation can provide a daunting obstacle: The misinformation provided 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 known as chronic tinnitus when it persists for more than six months.

Prevailing Misinformation Concerning Tinnitus and Hearing Loss

Many of these mistruths and myths, of course, are not created by social media and the internet. But they do make spreading misinformation easier. You should always discuss questions you have about your tinnitus with a reputable hearing specialist.

Debunking some examples may demonstrate why this misinformation spreads and how it can be challenged:

  • There is a cure for tinnitus: The hopes of individuals with tinnitus are exploited by the most common kinds of this misinformation. Tinnitus has no miracle cure. There are, however, treatments that can help you maintain a high standard of life and effectively manage your symptoms.
  • Tinnitus isn’t improved by hearing aids: Because tinnitus manifests as a certain kind of buzzing or ringing in the ears, many people assume that hearing aids won’t help. But newer hearing aids have been developed that can help you successfully regulate your tinnitus symptoms.
  • If you’re deaf, you have tinnitus and if you have tinnitus, you will lose your hearing: It’s true that in certain cases tinnitus and hearing loss can be linked, but such a link is not universal. Tinnitus can be triggered by certain diseases which leave overall hearing intact.
  • Loud noises are the only cause of tinnitus: It’s not well known and understood what the causes of tinnitus are. It’s true that really extreme or long term noise exposure can cause tinnitus. 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 aggravated by certain lifestyle changes ((for example, having anything with caffeine can make it worse for many people). And the symptoms can be decreased by eating some foods. But there is no diet or lifestyle change that will “cure” tinnitus for good.

Accurate Information Concerning Your Hearing Loss is Available

For both new tinnitus sufferers and those well acquainted with the symptoms it’s important to stop the spread of misinformation. 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 experts involved? Is this information documented by reliable sources?
  • Check with a hearing expert or medical professional: If you’ve tried everything else, run the information that you found by a respected hearing specialist (if possible one familiar with your case) to see if there is any credibility to the claims.
  • If it’s too good to be true, it most likely isn’t. You probably have a case of misinformation if a website or media post claims to have a miracle cure.

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

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

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