What is Ramsay Hunt syndrome? Justin Bieber’s diagnosis explained

Justin Bieber announced on Friday that he had Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, a rare condition that paralyzed half of his face.

The pop singer, Mr. Bieber, said in a video posted to his Instagram account, pointing to the side of his head. “You see, this eye is not blinking. I cannot smile on this side of my face. This nostril will not move.”

He said he’s canceling his upcoming tour dates, because “physically, he’s clearly not able to make it.”

We talked to health experts about the causes and treatments for disease.

Ramsay Hunt syndrome is a neurological condition caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox in children and shingles in adults. The virus can stay in your body for the rest of your life, even long after you’ve recovered from chickenpox, waking up again to irritate and inflame the nerves on your face.

“Nerves that go through your face pass through very narrow bony canals, and when they become inflamed they swell and lose the ability to function,” said Dr. Anna Wald, an infectious disease specialist at Washington University School of Medicine. .

the disease It affects men and women equally It can lead to paralysis on one side of the face, painful rashes and blisters. It is more common in the elderly, and some patients have changes in their hearing and may notice louder sounds in one ear than the other or develop tinnitus (chronic ringing in the ears) or even deafness in one ear. Ear and face pain are usually part of the syndrome, and some patients may experience dizziness.

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Each year, about five to 10 people in every 100,000 will develop Ramsay Hunt syndrome. “It can happen to anyone,” said Dr. Walid Javid, director of infection prevention and control at Mount Sinai in downtown New York City. “But it’s not something people should be afraid of.”

The syndrome is officially known as auricular herpes zoster; The most common name comes from neurologist James Ramsay Hunt, who first described the disease.

It can take people with the syndrome a long time to get an accurate diagnosis, According to the researchers. Ramsay Hunt’s term is obscure reputation And the disease can have symptoms similar to Bell’s palsy, which can also cause facial paralysis. Dr. Wald said that doctors usually diagnose Ramsay Hunt syndrome by identifying small pimples that have appeared in a patient’s ear.

Most people who have Ramsay Hunt recover fully, although the duration of illness can vary, said Dr. Michael Eason, professor of infectious diseases at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine. “Some people, it takes weeks. For some people, it takes months,” he said. However, in rare cases, facial paralysis or hearing loss can be permanent.

Ramsay Hunt’s treatment usually involves taking antiviral medications. Dr. Wald said some patients may be prescribed steroid medication. She said physical therapy is not usually recommended for patients, but it wouldn’t be harmful.

In his Instagram message, Mr. Pepper said he had been doing facial exercises as part of his treatment. He said, “I have to go get some rest, so I can get my face back to where it’s supposed to be.”

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