Singer Justin Bieber told fans in a YouTube video on Friday that his face is currently paralyzed by a viral condition. (Dr. Carniol does not have specific knowledge of Bieber’s case or his treatment plan.)
What is Ramsay Hunt Syndrome?
Ramsay Hunt syndrome is caused by varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox and shingles. This is very similar to Bell’s palsy; but unlike Bell’s palsy, whose cause is unknown, Ramsay Hunt is born from the genetic material for the virus that causes chickenpox. Ramsay Hunt Syndrome results in similar symptoms to Bell’s, without any lesions.
The pop star noted in the video that the virus attacked “the nerve in my ear, facial nerves and has caused my face to have paralysis. You can see this eye is not blinking. I can’t smile on this side of my face. This nostril will not move.”
Ramsay Hunt syndrome is a rare neurological disorder that occurs when the varicella-zoster virus infects a nerve in the head close to the inner ear. After having chickenpox as a child or shingles as an adult, the virus can lay dormant in the body. Why the virus reactivates and produces symptoms of Ramsay Hunt is unknown.
What are some symptoms of Ramsay Hunt Syndrome?
Symptoms can include a painful rash inside the ear canal and outside the ear. Due to the proximity to the inner ear, people with Ramsay Hunt may also experience vertigo or tinnitus, a ringing in the ear, and hearing loss.
How do you treat Ramsay Hunt Syndrome?
Treatment for patients with Ramsay Hunt syndrome, like Bieber, may include steroids and antiviral medications. Additionally, patients have to keep their eyes from drying out with drops and ointment.
Bieber assured fans that he is “gonna get better” and that he was doing “facial exercises to get my face back to normal.”
However, not everyone makes a full recovery from Ramsay Hunt, and recovery can take months or even years.
Stay tuned to learn what the long road to recovery for Ramsay Hunt patients, like Justin Bieber, can look like.