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. 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 important to make sure people have trustworthy, accurate information. The internet and social media, sadly, are full of this type of misinformation according to new research.

Finding Information Regarding Tinnitus on Social Media

If you’re researching tinnitus, or you have become a member of a tinnitus support group online, you’re not alone. Social media is a very good place to build community. But there is very little oversight focused on ensuring displayed information is truthful. According to one study:

  • 30% of YouTube video results included misinformation
  • 44% of public Facebook groups contained misinformation
  • Out of all Twitter accounts, 34% had what was categorized as misinformation

This amount of misinformation can be a daunting challenge for anyone diagnosed with tinnitus: Fact-checking can be time-consuming and too much of the misinformation introduced is, frankly, enticing. We want to believe it’s true.

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 known as chronic tinnitus when it continues for longer than six months.

Tinnitus And Hearing Loss, Common Misinformation

Many of these myths and mistruths, 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 contacted with any questions you have concerning tinnitus.

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

  • Tinnitus is triggered only by loud noises: The precise causes of tinnitus are not really perfectly understood or documented. It’s true that really harsh or long term noise exposure can cause tinnitus. But tinnitus can also be connected to other things like genetics, traumatic brain injury, and other factors.
  • Your hearing can be restored by dietary changes: It’s true that some lifestyle issues may exacerbate your tinnitus ((for instance, having anything that has 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.
  • You will go deaf 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. There are some medical concerns which could trigger tinnitus but otherwise leave your hearing untouched.
  • Tinnitus can be cured: The wishes of those with tinnitus are exploited by the most common forms of this misinformation. Tinnitus has no miracle cure. There are, however, treatment options that can help you maintain a high quality of life and effectively regulate your symptoms.
  • Tinnitus isn’t helped by hearing aids: Because tinnitus is experienced as a certain kind of buzzing or ringing in the ears, lots of people presume that hearing aids won’t help. But newer hearing aids have been developed that can help you effectively regulate your tinnitus symptoms.

How to Find Truthful Information About Your Hearing Concerns

Stopping the spread of misinformation is incredibly important, both for new tinnitus sufferers and for people who are already well accustomed to the symptoms. To protect themselves from misinformation there are several steps that people can take.

  • Look for sources: Try to learn what the sources of information are. Are there hearing professionals or medical experts involved? Is this information documented by trustworthy sources?
  • If it’s too good to be true, it most likely isn’t. Any website or social media post that claims to have knowledge of a miracle cure is almost certainly nothing but misinformation.
  • A hearing expert or medical consultant should be consulted. If you would like to see if the information is trustworthy, and you’ve tried everything else, run it by a trusted hearing professional.

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

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

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