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

You could be opening yourself to shocking misinformation about tinnitus or other hearing problems without ever realizing it. This as reported by recent research published in The Hearing Journal. Tinnitus is surprisingly common. Out of every 5 Americans one struggles with tinnitus, so ensuring people are given correct, reliable information is important. The internet and social media, sadly, are full of this type of misinformation according to a new study.

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 community online, you aren’t alone. A good place to build a community is on social media. But there are very few gatekeepers dedicated to ensuring disseminated information is truthful. According to one study:

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

For anyone diagnosed with tinnitus, this quantity of misinformation can present a difficult obstacle: The misinformation provided is frequently enticing and fact checking can be time consuming. We want to believe it.

Tinnitus, What is it?

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 lasts for longer than six months, it is known as chronic tinnitus.

Prevailing Misinformation Concerning Tinnitus and Hearing Loss

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

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

  • 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 hearing loss can be connected, but such a connection is not universal. Tinnitus can be caused by certain illnesses which leave overall hearing untouched.
  • Tinnitus is triggered only by loud noises: It’s not well known and documented what the causes of tinnitus are. It’s true that extremely extreme or long term noise exposure can cause tinnitus. But tinnitus can also be linked to other things like genetics, traumatic brain injury, and other factors.
  • There is a cure for tinnitus: One of the most prevalent kinds of misinformation exploits the desires of individuals who have tinnitus. There is no “miracle pill” cure for tinnitus. There are, however, treatment options that can help you maintain a high quality of life and effectively organize your symptoms.
  • Your hearing can be improved by dietary changes: It’s true that certain lifestyle problems may aggravate your tinnitus (for many consuming anything that contains caffeine can make it worse, for example). And the symptoms can be diminished by eating certain foods. But tinnitus can’t be “cured” for good by diet or lifestyle changes.
  • Tinnitus isn’t helped by hearing aids: Because tinnitus manifests as a certain kind of buzzing or ringing in the ears, lots of people assume that hearing aids won’t be helpful. Your tinnitus can be effectively controlled by modern hearing aids.

How to Find Truthful Facts Concerning Your Hearing Problems

Stopping the spread of misinformation is extremely important, both for new tinnitus sufferers and for those who are already well accustomed to the symptoms. To protect themselves from misinformation there are several steps that people can take.

  • If the information appears hard to believe, it most likely 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 specialist or medical consultant should be consulted. If you want to determine if the information is dependable, and you’ve tried everything else, talk to a respected hearing specialist.
  • Look for sources: Try to find out where your information is coming from. Was the information written by or sourced from hearing specialists 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.” acute critical thinking skills are your best defense from alarming misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing issues at least until social media platforms more carefully distinguish information from misinformation

If you have read some information that you are not certain of, make an appointment with a hearing care specialist.

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