Explained: What is Ramsay Hunt Syndrome — the rare facial condition affecting Justin Bieber?

What is the News?

Pop singer Justin Bieber has been diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt Syndrome.

What is Ramsay Hunt Syndrome?

The Ramsay Hunt syndrome is also called Herpes Zoster Oticus. It is a rare neurological disorder in which a virus – Varicella Zoster – causes inflammation of the nerves involved in facial movements. 

When the nerves get inflamed, they lose their ability to function, leading to temporary facial palsy or paralysis. 

Causes: Ramsay Hunt Syndrome is caused by reactivation of Varicella-Zoster Virus that has previously caused chickenpox and shingles in the patient.

— This virus belongs to the herpes virus group and can stay in the body as a latent infection.

— Varicella-Zoster Virus can get reactivated due to the weakening of the immune system.

Symptoms: The symptoms include painful, red rash and blisters in and around the ear and facial paralysis on the same side. Patients also report hearing loss in the ear that has been impacted apart from Tinnitus or ringing sounds.

Transmission: The disease is not contagious but can lead to chickenpox in those not vaccinated for the disease.

Cases: Only about five to 10 out of every 1,00,000 people will develop Ramsay Hunt Syndrome every year, making it an extremely rare disorder.

Treatment: It is treated using antiviral drugs, steroids and physiotherapy.

Is Ramsay Hunt Syndrome similar to Bell’s palsy?

Bell’s palsy is a case of facial muscle weakness or paralysis that can be set off suddenly. It is not considered to be a permanent condition, although in some rare cases, it can last for longer periods of time. Patients of Bell’s palsy usually show full recovery.

In comparison, patients of Ramsay Hunt syndrome may have more severe paralysis at the onset of the disorder and may not recover completely. Only 70% of patients with Ramsay Hunt syndrome regain normal or near-normal facial function compared to over 90% in Bell’s palsy.

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: What is Ramsay Hunt Syndrome — the rare facial condition affecting Justin Bieber?” published in Indian Express on 13th June 2022.

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