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

You could be opening yourself to shocking misinformation about tinnitus or other hearing problems without ever realizing it. The Hearing Journal has recently published research that backs this up. Tinnitus is remarkably common. One in 5 US citizens suffers from tinnitus, so it’s important to make sure people have trustworthy, accurate information. Unfortunately, new research is stressing just how prevalent misinformation on the web and social media is.

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 community online, you’re not alone. A great place to find like minded people is on social media. But there is very little oversight dedicated to ensuring displayed information is accurate. According to one study:

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

For anyone diagnosed with tinnitus, this quantity of misinformation can present a daunting obstacle: The misinformation provided is frequently 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 called chronic tinnitus when it continues for more than six months.

Tinnitus And Hearing Loss, Common Misinformation

Many of these mistruths and myths, obviously, are not created by social media and the internet. But spreading the misinformation is made easier with these tools. You need to discuss questions you have about your tinnitus with a trusted hearing professional.

Debunking some examples might illustrate why this misinformation spreads and how it can be challenged:

  • Loud noises are the only trigger of tinnitus: The specific causes of tinnitus are not always well understood or recorded. Many people, it’s true, have tinnitus as an immediate result of trauma to the ears, the results of particularly extreme or long-term loud noises. But traumatic brain injuries, genetics, and other issues can also cause the development of tinnitus.
  • Your hearing can be restored by dietary changes: It’s true that your tinnitus can be exacerbated by certain lifestyle changes ((as an example, drinking 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.
  • There is a cure for tinnitus: The wishes of those who have tinnitus are exploited by the most prevalent forms of this misinformation. There is no “miracle pill” cure for tinnitus. There are, however, treatment options that can help you maintain a high quality of life and effectively manage your symptoms.
  • Hearing aids won’t help with tinnitus: Lots of people assume hearing aids won’t help because tinnitus is experienced as buzzing or ringing in the ears. Your tinnitus can be successfully managed by modern hearing aids.
  • You will lose your hearing if you have tinnitus, and if you are deaf you already have tinnitus: It’s true that in certain cases tinnitus and loss of hearing can be connected, but such a link is not universal. There are some medical problems which could lead to tinnitus but otherwise leave your hearing untouched.

Correct Information About Your Hearing Loss is Available

For both new tinnitus sufferers and people well accustomed to the symptoms it’s essential to stop the spread of misinformation. There are a few steps that people should take to attempt to protect themselves from 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 (if possible one familiar with your situation) to see if there is any validity to the claims.
  • If the information appears hard to believe, it probably isn’t true. You probably have a case of misinformation if a website or media post professes a miracle cure.
  • Look for sources: Try to find out what the sources of information are. Was the information written by or sourced from hearing professionals or medical experts? Do trustworthy sources document the information?

The astrophysicist Carl Sagan once said something both simple and profound: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” acute critical thinking skills are your strongest defense from Startling 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 professional.

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