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

You may not realize it but you could be opening yourself to startling misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing issues. The Hearing Journal has recently published research that backs this up. Allot more people suffer from tinnitus than you might realize. Out of every 5 Us citizens one suffers from tinnitus, so ensuring people are given correct, trustworthy information is important. Unfortunately, new research is emphasizing just how prevalent misinformation on the web and social media can be.

Finding Information Regarding Tinnitus on Social Media

You aren’t alone if you are searching for others who have tinnitus. Social media is a very good place to find like minded people. But there is very little oversight dedicated to ensuring displayed information is accurate. According to one study:

  • 30% of YouTube video results contained misinformation
  • 34% of Twitter accounts were classified as containing misinformation
  • Misinformation is contained in 44% of public facebook pages

For people diagnosed with tinnitus, this quantity of misinformation can provide a difficult obstacle: The misinformation introduced is frequently 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. If this buzzing or ringing continues for more than six months, it is called chronic tinnitus.

Prevailing Misinformation About Tinnitus and Hearing Loss

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

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

  • Tinnitus isn’t improved by hearing aids: Lots of people believe hearing aids won’t help because tinnitus is experienced as buzzing or ringing in the ears. But today’s hearing aids have been designed that can help you successfully regulate your tinnitus symptoms.
  • Your hearing can be improved by dietary changes: It’s true that certain lifestyle issues may aggravate your tinnitus (for many drinking anything that has caffeine can make it worse, for example). And the symptoms can be lessened by eating some foods. But tinnitus can’t be “cured” for good by diet or lifestyle changes.
  • If you’re deaf, you have tinnitus and if you have tinnitus, you will lose your hearing: It’s true that in some cases tinnitus and loss of hearing can be linked, but such a link is not universal. There are some medical issues which could lead to tinnitus but otherwise leave your hearing untouched.
  • There is a cure for tinnitus: The desires of individuals with tinnitus are exploited by the most prevalent kinds of this misinformation. Tinnitus doesn’t have a miracle cure. There are, however, treatment options that can assist in maintaining a high standard of life and effectively organize your symptoms.
  • Loud noises are the only trigger of tinnitus: The exact causes of tinnitus are not always perfectly understood or documented. It’s true that very harsh or long term noise exposure can cause tinnitus. But traumatic brain injuries, genetics, and other factors can also lead to the development of tinnitus.

Correct Information About Your Hearing Loss is Available

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

  • Consult a hearing specialist or medical professional: If you’ve tried everything else, run the information that you found by a trusted hearing specialist (preferably one acquainted with your case) to find out if there is any credibility to the claims.
  • Look for sources: Try to get a feel for where your information is coming from. Was the information written by or sourced from hearing professionals or medical experts? Do dependable sources document the information?
  • If the information seems 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 little more than misinformation.

Something both profound and simple was once said by astrophysicist Carl Sagan: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” Not until social media platforms more rigorously distinguish information from misinformation, sharp critical thinking techniques are your best defense against alarming misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing concerns.

Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist if you’ve read some information you are unsure of.