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

You might not know it but you could be exposing yourself to shocking misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing issues. This according to recent research published in The Hearing Journal. Tinnitus is remarkably common. Out of every 5 Us citizens one struggles with tinnitus, so it’s important to make certain people have trustworthy, accurate information. The internet and social media, sadly, are full of this type of misinformation according to a new study.

Finding Information Regarding Tinnitus on Social Media

You aren’t alone if you are looking for other people who have tinnitus. Social media is a very good place to find like minded people. But making sure information is disseminated accurately is not very well regulated. According to one study:

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

For anyone diagnosed with tinnitus, this amount of misinformation can present a difficult obstacle: Checking facts can be time-consuming and too much of the misinformation presented 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 known as chronic tinnitus when it persists for longer than six months.

Tinnitus And Hearing Loss, Common Misinformation

The internet and social media, of course, didn’t invent many of these myths and mistruths. But spreading the misinformation is made easier with these tools. You should always discuss concerns you have about your tinnitus with a reputable hearing professional.

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

  • Loud noises are the only trigger of tinnitus: It’s really known and understood what the causes of tinnitus are. 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 connected to other things like genetics, traumatic brain injury, and other factors.
  • If you’re deaf, you have tinnitus and if you have tinnitus, you will go deaf: It’s true that in some cases tinnitus and loss of hearing can be connected, but such a connection is not universal. Tinnitus can be triggered by certain conditions which leave overall hearing untouched.
  • Tinnitus isn’t helped by hearing aids: Because tinnitus is experienced as a select kind of buzzing or ringing in the ears, lots of people believe that hearing aids won’t help. Your tinnitus can be successfully controlled by today’s hearing aids.
  • There is a cure for tinnitus: One of the more common kinds of misinformation plays on the hopes of those who suffer from tinnitus. There is no “miracle pill” cure for tinnitus. You can, however, effectively manage your symptoms and retain a high quality of life with treatment.
  • Your hearing can be restored by dietary changes: It’s true that your tinnitus can be aggravated by some lifestyle changes (for many drinking anything that has caffeine can make it worse, for example). And the symptoms can be decreased by eating certain foods. But there is no diet or lifestyle change that will “cure” tinnitus for good.

How to Find Truthful Facts Concerning Your Hearing Concerns

For both new tinnitus sufferers and people well acquainted with the symptoms it’s crucial to stop the spread of misinformation. There are several steps that people should take to try to shield themselves from misinformation:

  • If the information appears 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 nothing but misinformation.
  • Look for sources: Try to learn what the sources of information are. Are there hearing professionals or medical professionals involved? Is this information documented by reliable sources?
  • Check with a hearing expert or medical professional: If all else fails, run the information you’ve found by a respected hearing professional (ideally one acquainted with your case) to find out if there is any validity to the claims.

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