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

You could be exposing yourself to shocking misinformation about tinnitus or other hearing issues without ever recognizing it. This as reported by recent research published in The Hearing Journal. Allot more people suffer from tinnitus than you may think. Out of every 5 Us citizens one suffers from tinnitus, so it’s essential to make certain people have reliable, accurate information. The web and social media, unfortunately, are full of this sort of misinformation according to a new study.

How Can You Find Information About Tinnitus on Social Media?

If you’re researching tinnitus, or you have become a member of a tinnitus support community online, you’re not alone. Social media is a great place to build community. But ensuring information is displayed correctly is not very well regulated. According to one study:

  • 44% of public Facebook groups contained misinformation
  • There is misinformation in 30% of YouTube videos
  • 34% of Twitter accounts were categorized as containing misinformation

This quantity of misinformation can be an overwhelming challenge for anyone diagnosed with tinnitus: Checking facts can be time-consuming and too much of the misinformation provided is, frankly, enticing. We simply want to believe it’s true.

What Is Tinnitus?

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 lasts for more than six months.

Common Misinformation About Tinnitus and Hearing Loss

Many of these mistruths and myths, of course, are not created 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 questions you have about tinnitus.

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

  • Changes in diet will improve your hearing: It’s true that your tinnitus can be aggravated by some lifestyle changes ((as an 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.
  • Tinnitus is caused only by loud noises: The precise causes of tinnitus are not really perfectly understood or documented. It’s true that extremely severe or long term noise exposure can cause tinnitus. But traumatic brain injuries, genetics, and other issues 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 hearing loss can be connected, but such a link is not universal. Tinnitus can be triggered by certain illnesses which leave overall hearing intact.
  • Hearing aids can’t help with tinnitus: Because tinnitus is experienced as a certain kind of ringing or buzzing in the ears, many people believe that hearing aids won’t help. Your tinnitus can be effectively controlled by today’s hearing aids.
  • Tinnitus can be cured: The wishes of those who have tinnitus are exploited by the most prevalent types of this misinformation. There is no “miracle pill” cure for tinnitus. There are, however, treatment options that can help you maintain a high standard of life and effectively regulate your symptoms.

Accurate Information Concerning Your Hearing Loss is Available

For both new tinnitus sufferers and those well accustomed to the symptoms it’s crucial to stop the spread of misinformation. There are several steps that people should take to try to protect themselves from misinformation:

  • Look for sources: Try to find out what the source of information is. Was the information written by or sourced from hearing professionals or medical experts? Do dependable sources document the information?
  • 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 claims to have a miracle cure.
  • Consult a hearing expert or medical professional: If you would like to determine if the information is dependable, and you’ve tried everything else, talk to a trusted hearing specialist.

The astrophysicist Carl Sagan once said something both simple and profound: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” Until social media platforms more rigorously distinguish information from misinformation, sharp critical thinking techniques are your best defense against startling misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing issues.

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

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