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. Tinnitus is remarkably common. Out of every 5 Us citizens one struggles with tinnitus, so making sure people are given accurate, reliable information is important. Unfortunately, new research is emphasizing just how pervasive misinformation on the internet and social media is.

How Can You Find Information About Tinnitus on Social Media?

If you’re looking into tinnitus, or you have become a member of a tinnitus support group online, you aren’t alone. Social media is a very good place to build community. But ensuring information is disseminated accurately is not very well regulated. According to one study:

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

For people diagnosed with tinnitus, this quantity of misinformation can provide a daunting obstacle: The misinformation introduced is often enticing and checking facts can be time consuming. 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 called chronic tinnitus when it continues for more than six months.

Tinnitus And Hearing Loss, Common Misinformation

Social media and the internet, of course, didn’t create many of these myths and mistruths. But spreading the misinformation is made easier with these tools. A trusted hearing professional should always be consulted with any questions you have about tinnitus.

Why this misinformation spreads and how it can be challenged can be better understood by debunking some examples of it.

  • If you’re deaf, you have tinnitus and if you have tinnitus, you will go deaf: It’s true that in certain cases tinnitus and loss of hearing can be linked, but such a link is not universal. There are some medical issues which could cause tinnitus but otherwise leave your hearing untouched.
  • There is a cure for tinnitus: One of the most common kinds of misinformation exploits the hopes of individuals who suffer from tinnitus. There isn’t a “miracle pill” cure for tinnitus. You can, however, successfully handle your symptoms and retain a high quality of life with treatment.
  • Your hearing can be restored by dietary changes: It’s true that some lifestyle issues may aggravate your tinnitus ((as an 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 there is no diet or lifestyle change that will “cure” tinnitus for good.
  • Tinnitus is triggered only by loud noises: The specific causes of tinnitus are not really perfectly known or recorded. Lots of people, it’s true, have tinnitus as a direct result of trauma to the ears, the results of especially extreme or long-term loud noises. But traumatic brain damage, genetics, and other issues can also cause the development of tinnitus.
  • Tinnitus isn’t helped by hearing aids: Because tinnitus is experienced as a select kind of buzzing or ringing in the ears, many people assume that hearing aids won’t help. But modern hearing aids have been designed that can help you effectively regulate your tinnitus symptoms.

Correct Information About Your Hearing Loss is Available

Stopping the spread of misinformation is incredibly important, both for new tinnitus sufferers and for people who are already well accustomed to the symptoms. To shield themselves from misinformation there are a few steps that people can take.

  • Look for sources: Try to get a feel for where your information is coming from. Are there hearing professionals or medical professionals involved? Is this information documented by trustworthy sources?
  • If the information seems hard to believe, it probably isn’t true. Any website or social media post that professes knowledge of a miracle cure is almost certainly little more than misinformation.
  • A hearing expert or medical professional should be consulted. If all else fails, run the information that you found by a trusted hearing specialist (if possible one acquainted with your situation) to see if there is any credibility to the claims.

The astrophysicist Carl Sagan once said something both simple and profound: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” Not until social media platforms more carefully separate information from misinformation, sharp critical thinking techniques are your most useful defense against alarming misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing issues.

set up an appointment with a hearing care specialist if you’ve read some information you are not sure of.

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