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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 opening yourself to startling misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing issues. This according to recent research published in The Hearing Journal. Tinnitus is remarkably common. One out of 5 Americans suffers from tinnitus, so it’s essential to make sure people have reliable, correct information. Sadly, new research is stressing just how prevalent misinformation on the internet and social media can be.

Finding Information Regarding 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. Social media is a very good place to find like minded people. But there are very few gatekeepers dedicated to ensuring disseminated information is accurate. According to one study:

  • Misinformation is found 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

For individuals diagnosed with tinnitus, this quantity of misinformation can provide a difficult challenge: The misinformation presented is usually enticing and fact checking can be time consuming. We simply want to believe it’s true.

Tinnitus, What is it?

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 more than six months.

Common Misinformation Concerning Tinnitus and Hearing Loss

Social media and the internet, of course, did not invent many of these myths and mistruths. But they do make spreading misinformation easier. A reputable hearing specialist should always be consulted with any questions you have concerning tinnitus.

Debunking some examples might demonstrate why this misinformation spreads and how it can be challenged:

  • You will lose your hearing if you have tinnitus, and if you are deaf you already have tinnitus: It’s true that in some cases tinnitus and hearing loss can be connected, but such a link is not universal. There are some medical issues which could cause tinnitus but otherwise leave your hearing intact.
  • Tinnitus is triggered only by loud noises: The exact 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 harsh or long-term loud noises. But traumatic brain injuries, genetics, and other factors can also cause the development of tinnitus.
  • Your hearing can be improved by dietary changes: It’s true that your tinnitus can be exacerbated by certain lifestyle changes ((for example, having anything that has caffeine can make it worse for many people). And the symptoms can be decreased by eating some foods. But there is no diet or lifestyle change that will “cure” tinnitus for good.
  • Hearing aids won’t help with tinnitus: Because tinnitus is experienced as a certain kind of ringing or buzzing in the ears, many people presume that hearing aids won’t help. Your tinnitus can be successfully controlled by modern hearing aids.
  • There is a cure for tinnitus: One of the most prevalent forms of misinformation plays on the desires of individuals who have tinnitus. There is no “miracle pill” cure for tinnitus. There are, however, treatment options that can assist in maintaining a high standard of life and effectively organize your symptoms.

How to Uncover Accurate Information 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. There are several steps that people can take to attempt to protect themselves from misinformation:

  • If the information seems hard to believe, it probably isn’t true. You probably have a case of misinformation if a website or media post professes a miracle cure.
  • A hearing expert or medical professional should be consulted. If you would like to see if the information is trustworthy, and you’ve tried everything else, talk to a trusted hearing specialist.
  • 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 reliable sources document the information?

The astrophysicist Carl Sagan once said something both simple and profound: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” acute critical thinking techniques are your best defense from alarming misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing issues at least until social media platforms more rigorously separate information from misinformation

Schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist if you’ve read some information you are not sure of.