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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 regarding tinnitus or other hearing problems without ever realizing it. This as reported by recent research published in The Hearing Journal. Allot more people suffer from tinnitus than you may think. One in 5 Americans has tinnitus, so it’s essential to make certain people have trustworthy, correct information. The internet and social media, unfortunately, are full of this type of misinformation according to a new study.

Finding Information Regarding Tinnitus on Social Media

If you’re researching tinnitus, or you have joined a tinnitus support community online, you aren’t alone. Social media is a very good place to find like minded people. But ensuring information is displayed truthfully is not well moderated. According to one study:

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

For individuals diagnosed with tinnitus, this quantity of misinformation can provide a difficult obstacle: Checking facts can be time-consuming and too much 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.

Tinnitus And Hearing Loss, Common Misinformation

Many of these mistruths and myths, of course, are not created by social media and the internet. But they do make spreading misinformation easier. A reputable hearing professional should always be consulted with any concerns you have about tinnitus.

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

  • Hearing aids won’t help with tinnitus: Because tinnitus is experienced as a select kind of ringing or buzzing in the ears, lots of people assume that hearing aids won’t be helpful. But today’s hearing aids have been developed that can help you successfully manage your tinnitus symptoms.
  • Tinnitus is caused only by loud noises: It’s not well known and understood what the causes of tinnitus are. It’s true that really severe or long term noise exposure can cause tinnitus. But traumatic brain injuries, 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 lose your hearing: 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 problems which could trigger tinnitus but otherwise leave your hearing untouched.
  • Your hearing can be improved by dietary changes: It’s true that your tinnitus can be exacerbated by certain lifestyle changes (for many consuming anything that contains caffeine can make it worse, for example). 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 can be cured: The hopes of individuals who have tinnitus are exploited by the most prevalent forms of this misinformation. Tinnitus doesn’t have a miracle cure. There are, however, treatments that can help you maintain a high standard of life and effectively organize your symptoms.

Correct Information About 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 should take to try to protect themselves from misinformation:

  • If it’s too good to be true, it most likely isn’t. You most likely have a case of misinformation if a website or media post claims to have a miracle cure.
  • A hearing expert or medical professional should be consulted. If all else fails, run the information that you found by a trusted hearing professional (preferably one acquainted with your case) to see if there is any validity to the claims.
  • Look for sources: Try to find out where your information is coming from. Are there hearing specialists or medical experts involved? Is this information documented by reliable sources?

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

If you have read some information that you are not certain of, schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional.

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