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    What Is Ramsay Hunt Syndrome? All About The Rare Condition That Paralyzed Half Of Justin Bieber’s Face

    Yes, you read it right! Beloved singer and the king of millions of hearts, Justin Bieber, is going through a really rough phase in his life. He revealed that his facial paralysis is not even allowing him to blink his eye. The right side of the face of the singer has stopped functioning partially. His fans are in total shock. They can’t believe that their favorite singer has fallen prey to a deadly virus that has caused Ramsay Hunt syndrome.

    Bieber started gaining fame when he was 13 and gradually became a pop sensation. His songs like ‘Baby’ and ‘Believe’ are superhits. He won two Grammys and 22 nominations, including a record and song of the year nods this year for ‘Peaches’. However, Ramsay Hunt Syndrome has rendered the singer unable to do much in such a short time. What is this syndrome? How do you develop it? Let’s find out!

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    “My Body’s Telling Me To Slow Down”: Justin Bieber

    Justin Bieber
    Justin Bieber

    The 28-year-old singer has announced that he has been diagnosed with a rare disorder that cost one side of his face in an Instagram video. Justin has also canceled all his shows and tours for the time being. He said he is suffering from Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, which causes facial paralysis and affects nerves in the face through a shingles outbreak. In the video, Bieber expressed how he thinks that his body is responding negatively and that is “pretty serious”. He captioned it, “IMPORTANT PLEASE WATCH. I love you guys and keep me in your prayers”.

    “For those frustrated by my cancellations of the next shows, I’m just physically, obviously not capable of doing them,” he said in the video, adding, “My body’s telling me I’ve got to slow down. I hope you guys understand.”

    He showed how one of his eyes wasn’t blinking and said, “I can’t smile on this side of my face. This nostril will not move. So there’s full paralysis on this side of my face.”

    Justin said he’s unsure how long he’ll take to heal. However, he appeared positive about making a full recovery through rest and therapy and said that he has been doing facial exercises. “I’ll be using this time to just rest and relax and get back to a hundred percent, so that I can do what I was born to do,” he concluded.

    What Is Ramsay Hunt Syndrome?

    Dr. Amit Kochhar, MD, otolaryngologist (ENT) and director of the Facial Nerve Disorders Program at Pacific Neuroscience Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, talked about the “very, very rare” disorder.

    Ramsay Hunt syndrome (RHS) is a rare neurological disorder that causes paralysis of the facial nerve (facial palsy) and a rash affecting the ear or mouth. After Bell’s palsy, this is the second most common cause of atraumatic peripheral facial paralysis. Although the severity is pretty much higher in it than Bell’s palsy. This is a very, very rare disorder. The occurrence of the disease is generally five in 100,000 people.

    Who’s The Culprit In The Disease?

    We all are very familiar with the term ‘chickenpox’. Do you know it’s caused by a virus named Varicella Zoster? Let’s reveal something interesting now. Ramsay Hunt syndrome is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. After the treatment, though the symptoms subside, the virus still lives in your nerves. Years later, it may reactivate. If that happens, then it might affect your facial nerves. Sometimes reactivation in later years causes shingles, which results in rash and painful blisters.

    This shingles outbreak affects the facial nerve near one of the ears. It might also result in one-sided facial paralysis and hearing loss.

    What Are The Causes?

    This is very obvious that people who had chickenpox in their early life are prone to develop the disorder. The virus remains latent in the body even after treatment and results in this rare disorder. Some underlying factors trigger the latent virus’ return in the form of herpes zoster (Ramsay Hunt), which can inflame different nerves in the abdomen, back, and face.

    The reason for the occurrence of this disease might be high stress or some immuno-suppressive drugs related to any immuno-suppressive disease. There are many more underlying factors leading to the disorder. “Your body just can’t fight off infection,” Dr. Kochhar explained.

    What Are The Symptoms?

    The Ramsay Hunt syndrome has two main symptoms – a painful red rash with fluid-filled blisters on, in, and around one ear, and the other one is facial weakness or paralysis on the same side as the affected ear. Although usually, both the symptoms appear alongside each other, sometimes one might appear before the other one. In some exceptional cases, rash doesn’t even occur.

    Facial palsy is basically due to the inflammation of the facial nerve which is also known as the 7th cranial nerve. It comes from the brain and travels through a tunnel of bone. It allows the facial muscles to convey emotions. So eventually, any problem with that nerve affects facial expression without a doubt.

    Other general symptoms of the disorder include ear pain, hearing loss, ringing sensation in the ear, difficulty in closing one eye, and vertigo, among others.

    How Severe Can It Get?

    The Ramsay Hunt syndrome comes with quite a few severe complications if untreated or not prevented. First of all, the hearing loss and the facial paralysis that comes as a temporary symptom of the disorder might turn into a permanent disability. The partial facial paralysis leads to an inability to close the affected eye. That eventually leads to many more diseases of the structure and causes blurred vision and other defects.

    Another very severe complication of Ramsay Hunt syndrome includes prosthetic neuralgia. In this condition, the virus affects the nerve fibers. The neurological messages that are carried by the nerves get exaggerated and confused. Thus, even after the temporary symptoms subside, the pain can last longer in the body.

    How Is It Diagnosed?

    As we already mentioned before, the syndrome is very rare. There is no preponderance of gender for this disorder. Many health researchers believe that the disease is often misguiding, thus keeping the actual frequency of the disease in dark.

    The diagnosis of the disease needs a very detailed history of the patient. A proper clinical evaluation and careful investigations of the characteristics of every symptom of the patient are necessary. As it is a virus-bond disease, viral culture from saliva, tears and blood might help. Although, diagnosing the disease is very difficult as the key symptoms of Ramsay Hunt syndrome might not occur at an earlier phase.

    What Is The Treatment?

    High doses of steroids and anti-viral therapy are very important for recovery from this syndrome. The medications can be taken orally. In some cases, hospital admission is compulsory with IV infusion for support. Dr. Kochhar warned patients that, although electrical stimulation to the face may be recommended by some to get the muscles to work, it’s “very discouraged” and is known to “cause very severe side effects and impair the recovery.

    “That has been found to contribute to the long-term nerve damage and muscle spasms,” he added. The doctor also noted that, although there is “really no role in the early phase of treatment” for things like facial exercises, acupuncture, or massages, those can be helpful further down the road. “It’s really just a matter of letting your face recover,” Dr. Kochhar said.

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    Shubhashree Chatterjee
    Shubhashree Chatterjee
    I am a 21-year-old writer on and I am pursuing MBBS in Chennai.

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