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Ramsay Hunt syndrome

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  • Published
    14th Jun, 2022


Recently, Canadian singer Justin Bieber has revealed he has been diagnosed with a condition called Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, which has fully paralysed the right side of his face. 

What is Ramsay Hunt Syndrome?

  • The disorder, also called herpes zoster oticus, was first documented by neurologist James Ramsay Hunt.
  • Ramsay Hunt Syndrome is a neurological disease in which a virus – Varicella Zoster – causes inflammation of the nerves involved in facial movements. 
    • The inflammation caused by the Varicella Zoster Virus makes the nerve ineffective.
  • 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.
    • When the nerves get inflamed, they lose their ability to function, leading to temporary facial palsy or paralysis.
      • It means that facial muscles in the infected person cannot receive necessary signals to function properly.


  • Symptoms usually begin with pain in the ear on the affected side of the face in around 55 per cent of patients with the disorder. Facial paralysis and vesicles (small fluid-filled sacs or blisters) appear in 2-3 days. 
    • In 23 percent of patients, facial paralysis is the first symptom hinting at the disorder. 
  • It is characterised by facial paralysis and may also present as ear abnormalities, including ringing in the ears, earache, or hearing loss.
  • Additional symptoms of the disorder include a change in taste sensation, dry eyes, tearing, nasal obstruction, hyperacusis or noise sensitivity, and dysarthria or speaking difficulties.  

Varicella-zoster virus also causes chickenpox

  • Early-stage infection of the varicella-zoster virus causes chickenpox in humans, but the virus often remains dormant in the body long after the condition has passed. 
    • Reactivation of the virus, usually caused due to physiological stress or immunocompromised, can cause a rash or shingles along the affected nerve. 
    • Less than one percent of zoster cases involve the facial nerve and result in Ramsay Hunt Syndrome. 

Verifying, please be patient.