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Ramsay Hunt Syndrome

  • Category
    Miscellaneous
  • Published
    21st Jun, 2022

Context

Pop sensation Justin Bieber recently revealed that a viral disease has temporarily paralysed one side of his face.

About

  • Ramsay Hunt Syndrome:
  • Ramsay Hunt Syndrome is neurological disease 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.
  • It means that the facial muscles in the infected person cannot receive necessary signals to function properly.
  • The condition was named after James Ramsay Hunt, an American neurologistand army officer in World War I, who first observed and noted the condition.
  • There are 12 cranial nerves in the body.
  • Ramsay Hunt Syndrome is the viral infection impacting the 7th cranial nerve that is involved in facial movements.
  • The inflammation caused by the Varicella Zoster Virusmakes the nerve ineffective.

Symptoms of Ramsay Hunt Syndrome:

The two main signs and symptoms of Ramsay Hunt syndrome are:

  • A painful red rash with fluid-filled blisters on, in and around one ear
  • Facial weakness or paralysis on the same side as the affected ear

Other symptoms:

  • Ear pain
  • Hearing loss
  • Ringing in your ears (tinnitus)
  • Difficulty closing one eye
  • A sensation of spinning or moving (vertigo)
  • A change in taste perception or loss of taste
  • Dry mouth and eyes

Virus that causes Ramsay Hunt Syndrome:

  • The Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV) is the same virus that causes chickenpox and shingles.
  • According to the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, this virus belongs to the herpesvirus group and can stay in the body as a latent infection.
  • The virus can stay dormant in a person’s body and can reawaken to attack the nerves.
  • When reactivated due to a weakened immune system, which may be caused by anything from stress to ageing, the VZV affects the nerves near the ear on one side of the face.

Treatment:

  • It is treated using anti-viral drugs, steroids and physiotherapy.
  • Steroids and anti-viral drugs are the cornerstone of the treatment.

Is Ramsay Hunt Syndrome contagious?

  • The disease is not contagious but can lead to chickenpox in those not vaccinated for the disease.
  • Till the blister scabs fall off, the patients are advised to avoid contact with those with low immunity and the ones who have not had chickenpox, or are not vaccinated against it.
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