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

You might not recognize it but you could be exposing yourself to startling misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing issues. This as reported by recent research published in The Hearing Journal. Allot more people have tinnitus than you may think. Out of every 5 Us citizens one struggles with tinnitus, so it’s important to make certain people have reliable, accurate information. Unfortunately, new research is emphasizing just how prevalent misinformation on the web and social media is.

Finding Information About Tinnitus on Social Media

If you’re researching tinnitus, or you have joined a tinnitus support group online, you aren’t alone. A great place to build a community is on social media. But there is very little oversight focused on ensuring displayed information is truthful. According to one study:

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

This quantity of misinformation can be an overwhelming obstacle for anyone diagnosed with tinnitus: Checking facts can be time-consuming and allot 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. This buzzing or ringing is known as chronic tinnitus when it persists for longer than six months.

Prevailing Misinformation About Tinnitus and Hearing Loss

Many of these myths and mistruths, of course, are not invented by the internet and social media. But they do make spreading misinformation easier. You need to discuss concerns you have about your tinnitus with a reputable hearing professional.

Exposing some examples might show why this misinformation spreads and how it can be challenged:

  • 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 extreme or long-term loud noises. But tinnitus can also be linked to other things such as genetics, traumatic brain injury, and other factors.
  • Hearing aids can’t help with tinnitus: Because tinnitus manifests as a select kind of ringing or buzzing in the ears, lots of people assume that hearing aids won’t help. But newer hearing aids have been developed that can help you successfully regulate your tinnitus symptoms.
  • Your hearing can be restored by dietary changes: It’s true that your tinnitus can be aggravated by some lifestyle changes ((as an example, having anything with caffeine can make it worse for many people). And the symptoms can be diminished by eating some foods. But tinnitus can’t be “cured” for good by diet or lifestyle changes.
  • You will go deaf if you have tinnitus, and if you are deaf you already have tinnitus: The link between hearing loss and tinnitus is real but it’s not universal. Tinnitus can be triggered by certain conditions which leave overall hearing untouched.
  • Tinnitus can be cured: The hopes of those with tinnitus are exploited by the most prevalent kinds of this misinformation. Tinnitus has no miracle cure. There are, however, treatment options that can help you maintain a high quality of life and effectively manage your symptoms.

Correct Information About Your Hearing Loss is Available

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

  • 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 professes a miracle cure.
  • Check with a hearing expert or medical professional: 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.
  • Look for sources: Try to find out what the source of information is. Was the information written by or sourced from hearing professionals or medical experts? Is this information documented by trustworthy sources?

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 regarding tinnitus and other hearing issues.

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

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