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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 shocking misinformation about tinnitus and other hearing problems. This according to recent research published in The Hearing Journal. Allot more people have tinnitus than you might recognize. One in 5 US citizens suffers from tinnitus, so making sure people are given accurate, reliable information is important. The internet and social media, sadly, are full of this sort of misinformation according to new research.

How Can You Find Information About Tinnitus on Social Media?

You aren’t alone if you are looking for other people with tinnitus. Social media is a very good place to find like minded people. But there is very little oversight dedicated to ensuring displayed information is correct. According to one study:

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

This amount of misinformation can be an overwhelming obstacle for anyone diagnosed with tinnitus: The misinformation provided is often enticing and fact checking can be time consuming. We want to believe it.

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 continues for longer than six months.

Common Misinformation About Tinnitus and Hearing Loss

The internet and social media, of course, did not invent many of these myths and mistruths. But they do make spreading misinformation easier. A reputable hearing specialist 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.

  • Tinnitus can be cured: One of the more common kinds of misinformation plays on the hopes of people who suffer from tinnitus. There isn’t a “miracle pill” cure for tinnitus. There are, however, treatments that can help you maintain a high quality of life and effectively organize your symptoms.
  • Tinnitus isn’t helped by hearing aids: Many people believe hearing aids won’t help because tinnitus manifests as ringing or buzzing in the ears. But newer hearing aids have been designed that can help you successfully manage your tinnitus symptoms.
  • Tinnitus is triggered only by loud noises: It’s really known and understood what the causes of tinnitus are. Many people, it’s true, have tinnitus as an immediate result of trauma to the ears, the results of particularly harsh or long-term loud noises. But tinnitus can also be connected to other things such as genetics, traumatic brain injury, and other factors.
  • Changes in diet will restore your hearing: It’s true that your tinnitus can be exacerbated by some lifestyle changes (for many drinking anything that contains caffeine can make it worse, for example). And there may be some foods that can temporarily diminish symptoms. But tinnitus can’t be “cured” for good by diet or lifestyle changes.
  • If you’re deaf, you have tinnitus and if you have tinnitus, you will go deaf: The link between hearing loss and tinnitus does exist but it’s not universal. Tinnitus can be triggered by certain diseases which leave overall hearing untouched.

Accurate Information About Your Hearing Loss is Available

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

  • Look for sources: Try to learn what the sources of information are. Was the information written by or sourced from hearing professionals or medical experts? Is this information documented by trustworthy sources?
  • 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 professes a miracle cure.
  • A hearing specialist or medical consultant should be consulted. If you’ve tried everything else, run the information you’ve found by a trusted hearing specialist (ideally one acquainted with your case) to see if there is any validity to the claims.

Something both profound and simple was once said by astrophysicist Carl Sagan: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” Not until social media platforms more carefully distinguish information from misinformation, sharp critical thinking techniques are your best defense against startling misinformation concerning tinnitus and other hearing concerns.

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