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

You could be opening yourself to startling misinformation regarding tinnitus or other hearing issues without ever recognizing it. The Hearing Journal has recently published research that backs this up. Allot more people have tinnitus than you might realize. Out of every 5 Americans one has tinnitus, so making sure people have access to accurate, trustworthy information is essential. The internet and social media, sadly, are full of this sort of misinformation according to new research.

Finding Information Regarding Tinnitus on Social Media

You aren’t alone if you are searching for others who have tinnitus. A good place to build a community is on social media. But there are very few gatekeepers dedicated to ensuring displayed information is accurate. According to one study:

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

For anyone diagnosed with tinnitus, this amount of misinformation can provide a daunting obstacle: The misinformation provided is frequently 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. This buzzing or ringing is called chronic tinnitus when it continues for longer than six months.

Tinnitus And Hearing Loss, Common Misinformation

The internet and social media, of course, did not create many of these myths and mistruths. But spreading the misinformation is made easier with these tools. You need to discuss questions you have about your tinnitus with a reputable hearing professional.

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

  • There is a cure for tinnitus: The wishes of those who have tinnitus are exploited by the most prevalent forms of this misinformation. There is no “miracle pill” cure for tinnitus. You can, however, successfully manage your symptoms and retain a high quality of life with treatment.
  • Your hearing can be restored by dietary changes: It’s true that your tinnitus can be exacerbated by some lifestyle changes ((for instance, drinking anything that has caffeine can make it worse for many people). And the symptoms can be decreased by eating certain foods. But tinnitus can’t be “cured” for good by diet or lifestyle changes.
  • Tinnitus isn’t improved by hearing aids: Many people assume hearing aids won’t help because tinnitus is experienced as ringing or buzzing in the ears. Your tinnitus can be effectively controlled by modern hearing aids.
  • Tinnitus is triggered only by loud noises: The exact causes of tinnitus are not really perfectly known or documented. It’s true that extremely severe or long term noise exposure can lead to tinnitus. But traumatic brain damage, genetics, and other factors can also result in the development of tinnitus.
  • If you’re deaf, you have tinnitus and if you have tinnitus, you will go deaf: It’s true that in certain cases tinnitus and loss of hearing can be linked, but such a connection is not universal. There are some medical problems which could trigger tinnitus but otherwise leave your hearing untouched.

Accurate Information Concerning Your Hearing Loss is Available

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

  • A hearing specialist or medical professional should be consulted. If you’ve tried everything else, run the information you’ve found by a respected hearing professional (preferably one familiar with your situation) to find out if there is any validity to the claims.
  • Look for sources: Try to determine what the sources of information are. Was the information written by or sourced from hearing professionals or medical experts? Is this information documented by reliable sources?
  • If the information appears hard to believe, it most likely isn’t true. You most likely have a case of misinformation if a website or media post professes a miracle cure.

The astrophysicist Carl Sagan once said something both simple and profound: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” Sharp critical thinking skills are your strongest defense against Startling misinformation concerning tinnitus and other hearing issues at least until social media platforms more carefully separate information from misinformation

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

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