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

You might not recognize it but you could be opening yourself to startling misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing issues. The Hearing Journal has recently published research supporting this. Tinnitus is surprisingly common. One out of 5 Americans suffers from tinnitus, so it’s important to make sure people have reliable, correct information. The internet 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?

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

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

This quantity of misinformation can be a daunting obstacle for anyone diagnosed with tinnitus: The misinformation presented is usually enticing and checking facts can be time consuming. We 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 known as chronic tinnitus when it lasts for longer than six months.

Tinnitus And Hearing Loss, Common Misinformation

Many of these mistruths and myths, of course, are not created by the internet and social media. But they do make spreading misinformation easier. 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:

  • Tinnitus is caused only by loud noises: It’s not well known and understood what the causes of tinnitus are. Many people, it’s true, have tinnitus as a direct outcome of trauma to the ears, the results of especially severe or long-term loud noises. But traumatic brain damage, genetics, and other factors can also lead to 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 some cases tinnitus and loss of hearing can be linked, but such a connection is not universal. Tinnitus can be caused by certain diseases which leave overall hearing untouched.
  • Tinnitus can be cured: One of the most prevalent types of misinformation plays on the desires of individuals who have tinnitus. Tinnitus doesn’t have a miracle cure. There are, however, treatment options that can assist in maintaining a high standard of life and effectively manage your symptoms.
  • Hearing aids can’t help with tinnitus: Because tinnitus is experienced as a certain kind of ringing or buzzing in the ears, lots of people presume that hearing aids won’t help. Your tinnitus can be effectively controlled by modern hearing aids.
  • Changes in diet will improve your hearing: It’s true that certain lifestyle issues might exacerbate your tinnitus (for many consuming anything that contains caffeine can make it worse, for example). And the symptoms can be lessened by eating some foods. But tinnitus can’t be “cured” for good by diet or lifestyle changes.

Correct Information About Your Hearing Loss is Available

For both new tinnitus sufferers and those well acquainted with the symptoms it’s important to stop the spread of misinformation. There are a few steps that people can take to try to shield themselves from misinformation:

  • Look for sources: Try to determine what the sources of information are. Was the information written by or sourced from hearing professionals or medical experts? Do reliable 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 specialist or medical professional should be consulted. If you would like to determine if the information is dependable, and you’ve tried everything else, run it by 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 separate information from misinformation, sharp critical thinking techniques are your most useful defense against shocking misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing issues.

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