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

You could be opening yourself to shocking misinformation regarding tinnitus or other hearing issues without ever recognizing it. The Hearing Journal has recently published research that backs this up. Allot more people have tinnitus than you may recognize. Out of every 5 Americans one has tinnitus, so making sure people are given correct, trustworthy information is important. Sadly, new research is emphasizing just how prevalent misinformation on the internet and social media can be.

How Can You Find Information About Tinnitus on Social Media?

You’re not alone if you are looking for other people who have tinnitus. A good place to build a community is on social media. But there is very little oversight focused on ensuring disseminated information is correct. According to one study:

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

For people diagnosed with tinnitus, this quantity of misinformation can provide a difficult challenge: Fact-checking can be time-consuming and a large amount of the misinformation introduced is, frankly, enticing. 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. If this buzzing or ringing continues for longer than six months, it is called chronic tinnitus.

Prevailing Misinformation Concerning Tinnitus and Hearing Loss

The internet and social media, obviously, did not create many of these myths and mistruths. But spreading the misinformation is made easier with these tools. A trusted hearing specialist should always be consulted with any concerns you have concerning tinnitus.

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

  • Tinnitus isn’t helped by hearing aids: Many people believe hearing aids won’t be helpful because tinnitus is experienced as ringing or buzzing in the ears. But today’s hearing aids have been designed that can help you successfully manage your tinnitus symptoms.
  • Tinnitus is caused only by loud noises: It’s really known and understood what the causes of tinnitus are. Many people, it’s true, suffer tinnitus as an immediate outcome of trauma to the ears, the results of especially harsh or long-term loud noises. But tinnitus can also be connected to other things like genetics, traumatic brain injury, and other factors.
  • Your hearing can be restored by dietary changes: It’s true that some lifestyle issues might exacerbate your tinnitus ((for instance, drinking anything with 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.
  • You will go deaf if you have tinnitus, and if you are deaf you already have tinnitus: The connection between hearing loss and tinnitus does exist but it’s not universal. There are some medical issues which could cause tinnitus but otherwise leave your hearing intact.
  • There is a cure for tinnitus: One of the more prevalent types of misinformation exploits the hopes of those who suffer from tinnitus. There isn’t a “miracle pill” cure for tinnitus. There are, however, treatments that can assist in maintaining a high standard of life and effectively organize your symptoms.

Accurate Information About Your Hearing Loss is Available

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

  • Look for sources: Try to find out what the source of information is. Are there hearing professionals or medical experts involved? Is this information documented by trustworthy sources?
  • If it’s too good to be true, it most likely isn’t. Any website or social media post that professes knowledge of a miracle cure is almost certainly nothing but misinformation.
  • Check with a hearing specialist or medical professional: If you would like to see if the information is dependable, and you’ve tried everything else, talk to a trusted hearing specialist.

The astrophysicist Carl Sagan once said something both simple and profound: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” Until social media platforms more rigorously separate information from misinformation, sharp critical thinking skills are your best defense against alarming misinformation concerning tinnitus and other hearing concerns.

If you have read some information that you are not certain of, set up an appointment with a hearing care professional.

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