What is Ramsay Hunt Syndrome? Justin Bieber’s diagnosis, explained

On Friday, Justin Bieber announced that he has Ramsay Hunt syndrome, a rare condition that leaves him with hemiplegia.

“It was from this virus that attacked the nerve in my ear and my facial nerve and left my face paralyzed,” pop singer Bieber said in a video posted on his Instagram account. , signal next to. his head. “As you can see, this eye does not blink. I can’t smile on this face. This nostril will not move.”

He said he would be canceling his upcoming tour dates, as he is “physically incapable of doing them.”

We talked to medical experts about the causes and treatment of this 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 life, even long after you recover from chickenpox, and flare up again to irritate and inflame the nerves in your face.

Dr Anna Wald, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Washington School of Medicine, said: ‘The nerves that go through your face go through fairly narrow bone canals, and when they’re inflamed, they swell and swell. incapacitated. .

Weak Affects men and women equally and can lead to paralysis of one side of the face and a painful, blistering rash. It is more common in older adults, and some patients have hearing changes, may perceive sounds as louder in one ear, or develop tinnitus (a chronic ringing in the ears) or even tinnitus. deafness in one ear. Ear pain and facial pain are often part of the syndrome, and some patients may experience dizziness.

Only about 5 to 10 out of 100,000 people will develop Ramsay Hunt syndrome each year. “It can happen to anyone,” said Dr. Waleed Javaid, director of infection prevention and control at Mount Sinai Downtown in New York. “But it’s not something people should fear.”

This syndrome is officially called herpes zoster oticus; Its more common name comes from neurologist James Ramsay Hunt, who first described the disease.

It can take a long time for people with the syndrome to receive an accurate diagnosis. According to researchers. The term Ramsay Hunt is famous for being ambiguous and the disease can have similar symptoms to Bell’s palsy, which can also cause facial paralysis. Dr Wald said doctors usually diagnose Ramsay Hunt syndrome by identifying small blisters that appear in a patient’s ear.

Michael Ison, professor of infectious diseases at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine, says most people with Ramsay Hunt disease recover completely, although the duration of the illness can vary. “For some, it takes weeks. For some, it takes months,” he said. However, in rare cases, facial paralysis or hearing loss can be permanent.

Treatment for Ramsay Hunt usually includes taking antiviral medication. Some patients may also be prescribed steroids, says Dr. Wald. She says physical therapy isn’t usually recommended for patients, but won’t do any harm.

Bieber said in the Instagram post that he is doing facial exercises as part of his healing process. “I have to go rest,” he said, “so I can get my face back.”

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