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 issues without ever realizing it. This according to recent research published in The Hearing Journal. Allot more people suffer from tinnitus than you might think. One in 5 US citizens has tinnitus, so it’s essential to make sure people have trustworthy, accurate information. Unfortunately, new research is emphasizing just how prevalent misinformation on the internet and social media can be.

How Can You Find Information About Tinnitus on Social Media?

If you’re researching tinnitus, or you have joined a tinnitus support group online, you’re not alone. Social media is a very good place to build community. But there are very few gatekeepers focused on ensuring disseminated information is correct. According to one study:

  • There is misinformation in 30% of YouTube videos
  • Out of all Twitter accounts, 34% included what was classified as misinformation
  • 44% of public Facebook groups contained misinformation

For individuals diagnosed with tinnitus, this amount of misinformation can present a daunting challenge: Fact-checking can be time-consuming and allot of the misinformation provided is, frankly, enticing. 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 more than six months, it is called chronic tinnitus.

Prevailing Misinformation Concerning Tinnitus and Hearing Loss

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

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

  • Loud noises are the only cause of tinnitus: The exact causes of tinnitus are not always well known or recorded. It’s true that really severe or long term noise exposure can lead to tinnitus. But tinnitus can also be connected to other things such as genetics, traumatic brain injury, and other factors.
  • Changes in diet will improve your hearing: It’s true that some lifestyle issues might aggravate your tinnitus ((for example, drinking anything with caffeine can make it worse for many people). And there may be some foods that can temporarily diminish symptoms. But tinnitus can’t be “cured” for good by diet or lifestyle changes.
  • Hearing aids won’t help with tinnitus: Lots of people believe hearing aids won’t be helpful because tinnitus is experienced as buzzing or ringing in the ears. But modern hearing aids have been designed that can help you successfully regulate your tinnitus symptoms.
  • 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 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 can be cured: The hopes of people 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 handle your symptoms and maintain a high quality of life with treatment.

How to Find Truthful Facts About Your Hearing Issues

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 shield themselves from misinformation there are several steps that people can take.

  • Look for sources: Try to find out where your information is coming from. Are there hearing specialists or medical professionals involved? Do trustworthy sources document the information?
  • If it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t. You probably have a case of misinformation if a website or media post claims to have a miracle cure.
  • A hearing expert or medical consultant should be consulted. If you’ve tried everything else, run the information that you found by a respected hearing professional (if possible one familiar with your situation) to see if there is any validity to the claims.

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

Schedule an appointment with a hearing care expert if you’ve read some information you are uncertain of.

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