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justin bieber surprised fans on Friday by announcing that he had suspended his tour because he had been diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt syndrome, which causes partial facial paralysis. Here’s what you need to know about this rare disease.
Ramsay Hunt syndrome is a rare neurological complication caused by varicella zoster virus – the same virus that causes chickenpox and shingles.
“Ramsay Hunt is extremely rare. Most people come into contact with [the virus] but very few people develop Ramsay Hunt syndrome. The incidence is five per 100,000 people per year,” Dr. Leah CrollMD, a neurovascular fellow at NYU Langone Health, tells ABC News.
It is a syndrome that can occur in anyone who has had the virus; once you’ve had it, it may still live on in your nerves.
Dr Croll explains: “Eventually, later in life, the virus can reactivate and cause something like Ramsay Hunt syndrome. Some situations that can be stressful…[and] other illnesses can trigger it. Sometimes we don’t know why it happens. ”
In Ramsay Hunt syndrome, the virus is reactivated and affects the facial nerve near one of your ears. Symptoms include a painful red rash that may be on, in, or around one ear and facial weakness or paralysis on the same side as the affected ear.
Other symptoms include ear pain, ringing in the ears, hearing loss, spinning or moving sensation, change or loss of taste, dry mouth and eyes.
Treatment includes antiviral drugs and oral steroids. If there is limited damage to the nerve, one should recover within a few weeks.
“The chances of getting your facial strength back are better if you start treatment earlier,” adds Dr. Croll. “The best thing you can do for prevention is to keep up with your vaccinations, including varicella and shingles shots.”
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