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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 problems without ever realizing it. The Hearing Journal has recently published research supporting this. Allot more people suffer from tinnitus than you may realize. One in 5 US citizens suffers from tinnitus, so ensuring people have access to correct, trustworthy information is essential. Unfortunately, new research is stressing just how prevalent misinformation on the web and social media can be.

Finding Information Regarding Tinnitus on Social Media

You aren’t alone if you are looking for other people with tinnitus. A great place to build a community is on social media. But there are very few gatekeepers focused on ensuring disseminated information is accurate. According to one study:

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

For individuals diagnosed with tinnitus, this amount of misinformation can provide a difficult obstacle: The misinformation presented is frequently 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. If this buzzing or ringing persists for more than six months, it is known as chronic tinnitus.

Prevailing Misinformation Concerning Tinnitus and Hearing Loss

The internet and social media, of course, did not invent many of these myths and mistruths. But spreading the misinformation is made easier with these tools. You should always discuss questions you have about your tinnitus with a trusted hearing professional.

Exposing some examples may show why this misinformation spreads and how it can be challenged:

  • Hearing aids won’t help with tinnitus: Because tinnitus is experienced as a select kind of buzzing or ringing in the ears, many people believe that hearing aids won’t help. But modern hearing aids have been designed that can help you effectively regulate your tinnitus symptoms.
  • Tinnitus is caused only by loud noises: The precise causes of tinnitus are not really perfectly understood or documented. It’s true that extremely harsh or long term noise exposure can lead to tinnitus. But traumatic brain damage, genetics, and other issues can also lead to the development of tinnitus.
  • Changes in diet will improve your hearing: It’s true that your tinnitus can be aggravated by certain lifestyle changes ((for example, drinking anything with 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.
  • There is a cure for tinnitus: The hopes of people who have tinnitus are exploited by the most common forms of this misinformation. There isn’t a “miracle pill” cure for tinnitus. There are, however, treatment options that can help you maintain a high quality of life and effectively regulate your symptoms.
  • 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. Tinnitus can be caused by certain diseases which leave overall hearing untouched.

Accurate Information About Your Hearing Loss is Available

For both new tinnitus sufferers and people well accustomed to the symptoms it’s important to stop the spread of misinformation. To protect themselves from misinformation there are several steps that people can take.

  • 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.
  • 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?
  • Check with a hearing expert or medical professional: If all else fails, run the information you’ve found by a trusted hearing specialist (if possible one acquainted with your situation) to find out if there is any validity to the claims.

The astrophysicist Carl Sagan once said something both simple and profound: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” Sharp critical thinking techniques are your strongest defense from shocking misinformation concerning tinnitus and other hearing Concerns at least until social media platforms more carefully separate information from misinformation

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