A Face-To Face With Ramsay Hunt Syndrome And Facial Paralysis

  • 27 Jul 2022

Pop singer Justin Bieber left fans worried when he announced the cancellation of his concert tours in June 2022, as he was suffering from a facial paralysis caused due to an uncommon syndrome called RAMSAY HUNT SYNDROME. An Instagram video shared by him on June 10, 2022, revealed he was diagnosed with it. It was a wretched and grim time for him.

Let’s find out more about this syndrome and paralysis…

What is Facial Paralysis?

An inability to move the facial muscles on one or both sides of the face is termed facial paralysis. Some causes of facial paralysis are-

  • Congenital conditions
  • Trauma
  • Stroke
  • Brain tumour
  • Bell’s palsy

This disease can affect speaking, blinking of eyes, can cause drooping of saliva, eating problems and distorted facial expressions. The first common cause of facial paralysis is Bell’s palsy and the second cause is Ramsay Hunt Syndrome.

What is Ramsay Hunt Syndrome?

It is a disease caused by herpes zoster oticus virus (VZV), a shingles outbreak that affects the facial nerves of one of the ears. This virus also causes chickenpox and shingles. This disease name was coined when an army officer & neurologist James Ramsay Hunt described it in 1907.

How Is Ramsay Hunt Syndrome Caused?

When chicken pox affects in childhood, the VZV that causes it remains dormant in a child’s nerves for years together. When the child grows up, shingles occurs when the previously inactive and dormant VZV reactivates. This reactivation in the facial nerve of the face causes this syndrome which leads to facial paralysis, intense ear pain, and painful rashes on the ear, face and mouth.

Who Can Be A Target Of Ramsay Hunt Syndrome?

  • Patient with chickenpox and shingles
  • Older age people
  • Rarely, children
  • Immunosuppressed or immunocompromised individuals

What are the Symptoms of Ramsay Hunt Syndrome?

  • Painful sores
  • Stiffness on one side of the face 
  • Difficulty closing eye
  • Distorted facial expressions
  • Eating problem
  • Paralysis of one side of the face
  • Painful rash and blisters on the ear, face, mouth
  • Intense ear pain
  • Ringing sound in the ear (tinnitus)
  • Hearing loss on one side
  • Dry eyes and mouth
  • Loss of sense of taste 
  • Social anxiety 
  • Moving things sensation (vertigo)
  • Facial abnormality

Who Is Prone To Ramsay Hunt Syndrome?

  • People with a weak immune system
  • People who have not taken the chickenpox vaccine
  • People having chickenpox
  • By coming in contact with the fluid of blisters of a person having Ramsay Hunt Syndrome
  • Newborns
  • Pregnant females

Can Ramsay Hunt Syndrome be easily diagnosed?

  • Can be misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all
  • All symptoms do not develop in all individuals
  • Paralysis of the face is a diagnosing factor
  • A sample of saliva and fluid from the blister should be taken to test VZV

How can Ramsay Hunt Syndrome be treated?

  • Antiviral drugs
  • Corticosteroids
  • Pain relievers
  • Vertigo medications
  • Anti-seizure treatment
  • Natural treatment such as cold compress
  • Eye lubricants

Thus, the above are the various modes of treatment for managing syndrome symptoms. If there is facial paralysis on both sides, the surgical procedure becomes the need and norm! Recovery of patients occurs in a few weeks to a few months. Chances of recurrence are high.

What are the complications of facial paralysis due to Ramsay Hunt Syndrome?

  • Facial abnormalities
  • Disfigurement of face
  • Corneal ulcers
  • Facial muscle spasms
  • Eye infections
  • Complications of the brain and spinal cord
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Nerve pain
  • Headaches
  • Weakness in the face, arm, and leg of one side affected

What are some of the known types of Ramsay Hunt Syndrome?

  • Type 1 facial paralysis (Justin Bieber case)
  • Type 2 Ramsay Hunt Cerebellar Syndrome (rare cases)
  • Type 3 Hunt’s disease or Artisan’s palsy (paralysis of the ulnar nerve of the hand)

Read more on Types of RAMSAY HUNT SYNDROME.

What is the treatment for Facial Paralysis Type 1?

  • Facial paralysis surgery
  • Facial nerve graft
  • Nerve transfer

Justin Bieber faced the symptoms of Ramsay Hunt Syndrome Type 1. This condition made him unable to blink, or smile and affected one side of his face. 

However, Justin Bieber is reportedly resuming his tour in the coming month following this diagnosis. 

 Check out Project Global Cure’s blog section for such upbeat and interesting blogs.

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