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

You could be exposing yourself to startling misinformation about tinnitus or other hearing problems without ever recognizing it. The Hearing Journal has recently published research that backs this up. Tinnitus is surprisingly common. One out of 5 US citizens suffers from tinnitus, so making sure people are given accurate, trustworthy information is essential. Unfortunately, new research is emphasizing just how prevalent misinformation on the internet and social media is.

How Can You Find Information About Tinnitus on Social Media?

You aren’t alone if you are searching for other people with tinnitus. A great place to build a community is on social media. But there are very few gatekeepers dedicated to ensuring disseminated information is correct. According to one study:

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

For anyone diagnosed with tinnitus, this quantity of misinformation can provide a difficult obstacle: The misinformation introduced is often enticing and fact checking can be time consuming. We simply 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. When this buzzing or ringing continues for more than six months, it is known as chronic tinnitus.

Tinnitus And Hearing Loss, Common Misinformation

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

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

  • There is a cure for tinnitus: The hopes of those with tinnitus are exploited by the most common kinds of this misinformation. There isn’t a “miracle pill” cure for tinnitus. You can, however, effectively manage your symptoms and retain a high quality of life with treatment.
  • Loud noises are the only trigger of tinnitus: It’s not well known and understood what the causes of tinnitus are. It’s true that extremely extreme or long term noise exposure can lead to tinnitus. But traumatic brain injuries, genetics, and other factors can also cause the development of tinnitus.
  • You will go deaf if you have tinnitus, and if you are deaf you already have tinnitus: It’s true that in certain cases tinnitus and loss of hearing can be connected, but such a link is not universal. There are some medical issues which could lead to tinnitus but otherwise leave your hearing untouched.
  • Hearing aids won’t help with tinnitus: Many people believe hearing aids won’t help because tinnitus manifests as ringing or buzzing in the ears. But today’s hearing aids have been developed that can help you successfully manage your tinnitus symptoms.
  • Your hearing can be improved by dietary changes: It’s true that some lifestyle problems may exacerbate your tinnitus ((for example, having anything that has caffeine can make it worse for many people). 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.

How to Uncover Truthful Facts Concerning Your Hearing Concerns

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

  • Consult a hearing expert or medical professional: If you would like to find out if the information is reliable, and you’ve tried everything else, run it by a respected hearing specialist.
  • 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 probably little more than misinformation.
  • Look for sources: Try to find out where your information is coming from. Are there hearing specialists or medical professionals involved? Do reliable sources document the information?

Something both profound and simple was once said by astrophysicist Carl Sagan: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” Until social media platforms more rigorously separate information from misinformation, sharp critical thinking techniques are your most useful defense against startling misinformation concerning tinnitus and other hearing issues.

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

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