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

You may not recognize it but you could be exposing yourself to shocking misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing issues. This based on recent research published in The Hearing Journal. Tinnitus is surprisingly common. One in 5 Americans struggles with tinnitus, so ensuring people are given correct, reliable information is important. The web and social media, sadly, are full of this sort of misinformation according to a new study.

Finding Information Regarding Tinnitus on Social Media

You aren’t alone if you are looking for others who have tinnitus. Social media is a very good place to find like minded people. But making sure information is disseminated correctly is not well regulated. According to one study:

  • 30% of YouTube video results contained misinformation
  • 44% of public Facebook groups included misinformation
  • Out of all Twitter accounts, 34% included what was classified as misinformation

For anyone diagnosed with tinnitus, this quantity of misinformation can present a difficult obstacle: The misinformation presented is frequently enticing and fact checking can be time consuming. 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 lasts for longer than six months.

Tinnitus And Hearing Loss, Common Misinformation

Many of these mistruths and myths, obviously, are not invented by social media and the internet. But spreading the misinformation is made easier with these tools. A trusted hearing specialist should always be consulted with any questions you have concerning tinnitus.

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

  • Your hearing can be restored by dietary changes: It’s true that your tinnitus can be exacerbated by some lifestyle changes (for many consuming anything that has caffeine can make it worse, for example). 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.
  • If you’re deaf, you have tinnitus and if you have tinnitus, you will lose your hearing: The connection between loss of hearing and tinnitus does exist but it’s not universal. Tinnitus can be triggered by certain sicknesses which leave overall hearing untouched.
  • Tinnitus isn’t helped by hearing aids: Because tinnitus is experienced as a select kind of ringing or buzzing in the ears, many people presume that hearing aids won’t be helpful. Your tinnitus can be successfully controlled by modern hearing aids.
  • There is a cure for tinnitus: The hopes of people with tinnitus are exploited by the most prevalent kinds of this misinformation. Tinnitus has no miracle cure. You can, however, successfully handle your symptoms and retain a high quality of life with treatment.
  • Tinnitus is caused only by loud noises: The specific causes of tinnitus are not always perfectly known or documented. Lots of people, it’s true, suffer tinnitus as a direct outcome of trauma to the ears, the results of especially severe or long-term loud noises. But traumatic brain damage, genetics, and other issues can also lead to the development of tinnitus.

Accurate Information Concerning 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 try to protect themselves from misinformation:

  • 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 little more than misinformation.
  • Check with a hearing specialist or medical professional: If you’ve tried everything else, run the information that you found by a respected hearing professional (ideally one familiar with your situation) to see if there is any validity to the claims.
  • Look for sources: Try to get a feel for where your information is coming from. Are there hearing professionals or medical experts involved? Is this information documented by dependable sources?

Something both profound and simple was once said by astrophysicist Carl Sagan: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” Sharp critical thinking techniques are your strongest defense from Startling misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing Concerns at least until social media platforms more rigorously distinguish information from misinformation

If you have found some information that you are unsure of, make an appointment with a hearing care professional.

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