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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. Allot more people suffer from tinnitus than you might recognize. One out of 5 US citizens has tinnitus, so it’s essential to make sure people have trustworthy, correct information. Sadly, new research is stressing just how prevalent misinformation on the web and social media can be.

How Can You Find Information About Tinnitus on Social Media?

If you’re researching tinnitus, or you have become a member of a tinnitus support group online, you aren’t alone. A good place to build a community is on social media. But ensuring information is disseminated correctly is not well regulated. According to one study:

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

This quantity of misinformation can be an overwhelming challenge for anyone diagnosed with tinnitus: The misinformation presented is usually enticing and fact checking 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. When this buzzing or ringing persists for longer than six months, it is known as chronic tinnitus.

Tinnitus And Hearing Loss, Common Misinformation

Many of these mistruths and myths, obviously, are not created by social media and the internet. But they do make spreading misinformation easier. You should always go over concerns you have about your tinnitus with a trusted hearing specialist.

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

  • If you’re deaf, you have tinnitus and if you have tinnitus, you will lose your hearing: It’s true that in some cases tinnitus and hearing loss can be connected, but such a connection is not universal. There are some medical concerns which could trigger tinnitus but otherwise leave your hearing intact.
  • Tinnitus is caused only by loud noises: It’s not well known and understood what the causes of tinnitus are. Many people, it’s true, suffer tinnitus as an immediate result of trauma to the ears, the results of especially severe or long-term loud noises. But tinnitus can also be linked to other things such as genetics, traumatic brain injury, and other factors.
  • Tinnitus can be cured: One of the most prevalent types of misinformation plays on the wishes of those who have tinnitus. There is no “miracle pill” cure for tinnitus. You can, however, successfully manage your symptoms and retain a high quality of life with treatment.
  • Hearing aids won’t help with tinnitus: Lots of people assume hearing aids won’t help because tinnitus manifests as ringing or buzzing in the ears. Your tinnitus can be successfully managed by today’s hearing aids.
  • Changes in diet will improve your hearing: It’s true that your tinnitus can be aggravated by some lifestyle changes (for many consuming anything that has caffeine can make it worse, for example). And the symptoms can be diminished by eating some foods. But tinnitus can’t be “cured” for good by diet or lifestyle changes.

How to Uncover Accurate Facts About Your Hearing Problems

Stopping the spread of misinformation is extremely important, both for new tinnitus sufferers and for those who are already well acquainted with the symptoms. There are a few steps that people should take to attempt to protect themselves from misinformation:

  • Look for sources: Try to learn what the sources of information are. Are there hearing professionals or medical experts involved? Is this information documented by trustworthy sources?
  • Check with a hearing expert or medical professional: If all else fails, run the information that you found by a respected hearing specialist (if possible one acquainted with your case) to see if there is any validity 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.” acute critical thinking techniques are your best defense against shocking misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing Concerns at least until social media platforms more carefully distinguish information from misinformation

If you have read some information that you are unsure of, schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist.

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