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

You might not realize it but you could be exposing yourself to startling misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing problems. The Hearing Journal has recently published research that backs this up. Tinnitus is surprisingly common. Out of every 5 Americans one has tinnitus, so it’s essential to make certain people have trustworthy, correct information. The web and social media, unfortunately, are full of this type of misinformation according to new research.

How Can You Find Information About Tinnitus on Social Media?

You’re not alone if you are looking for others who have tinnitus. A great 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 categorized as containing misinformation
  • There is misinformation contained in 30% of YouTube videos
  • Misinformation is contained in 44% of public facebook pages

This quantity of misinformation can be an overwhelming obstacle for anyone diagnosed with tinnitus: The misinformation provided is usually enticing and fact checking can be time consuming. We want to believe it.

What Is Tinnitus?

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

Tinnitus And Hearing Loss, Common Misinformation

The internet and social media, of course, did not create many of these myths and mistruths. But they do make spreading misinformation easier. A trusted hearing specialist should always be contacted with any concerns you have concerning tinnitus.

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

  • Hearing aids won’t help with tinnitus: Lots of people assume hearing aids won’t be helpful because tinnitus manifests as ringing or buzzing in the ears. Your tinnitus can be successfully controlled by modern hearing aids.
  • Your hearing can be restored by dietary changes: It’s true that certain lifestyle problems may aggravate your tinnitus ((for instance, having anything with caffeine can make it worse for many people). And the symptoms can be decreased by eating some foods. But tinnitus can’t be “cured” for good by diet or lifestyle changes.
  • Tinnitus is triggered only by loud noises: It’s not well known and understood what the causes of tinnitus are. It’s true that extremely harsh 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.
  • You will lose your hearing if you have tinnitus, and if you are deaf you already have tinnitus: The connection between hearing loss and tinnitus is real but it’s not universal. Tinnitus can be triggered by certain illnesses which leave overall hearing intact.
  • Tinnitus can be cured: The desires of people with tinnitus are exploited by the most prevalent forms of this misinformation. There isn’t a “miracle pill” cure for tinnitus. You can, however, successfully handle your symptoms and retain a high quality of life with treatment.

Accurate Information About Your Hearing Loss is Available

Stopping the spread of misinformation is incredibly important, both for new tinnitus sufferers and for those who are already well acquainted with the symptoms. There are several steps that people should take to try to shield themselves from misinformation:

  • If the information appears 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.
  • Check with a hearing expert or medical professional: If you’ve tried everything else, run the information you’ve found by a respected hearing specialist (preferably one familiar with your case) to find out if there is any credibility to the claims.
  • Look for sources: Try to learn what the sources of information are. Was the information written by or sourced from hearing specialists 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 strongest defense against alarming misinformation concerning tinnitus and other hearing Concerns at least until social media platforms more rigorously distinguish information from misinformation

If you have found some information that you are unsure of, set up an appointment with a hearing care professional.

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