What is 'Ramsay Hunt Syndrome'? Disorder affecting Justin Bieber

Sunday, 31 July 2022 (15:18 IST)
New Delhi: International popstar Justin Bieber recently announced he has been diagnosed with a rare neurological condition just ahead of his scheduled India tour.

Last month, in an Instagram video, Justin explained to his fans the reason for cancelling all his recent gigs. The India tour though remains and the "Baby" singer will visit New Delhi in October.

The 28-year-old Canadian singer revealed that he has been paralyzed on one side of his face, as a result, of a viral condition called the Ramsay Hunt Syndrome (RHS).

Further in the video, he explained that he is unable to blink or smile from one side of his face, the infection has fully paralyzed his right side, and so was forced to cancel future concert appearances to focus on getting the right treatment.

So, what exactly is Ramsay Hunt Syndrome?

Sawan Kumar Verma, Senior Neurologist, Shalby Multi-Specialty Hospitals Mohali, told UNI about the symptoms and treatment of the disease.

“It’s a rare neurological disorder related to the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), which is the same virus that causes chickenpox. So, if you have suffered from chickenpox as a child, chances are the virus that caused it might lay latent in your body for several years and can reactivate to attack the nerves. The reactivation of the VZV virus in your facial nerve usually causes shingles but in rare cases, leads to Ramsay Hunt syndrome,” Verma said.

“It spreads to the facial nerves, in the area of the inner ear, and if the illness is not addressed within the first three days after the onset of symptoms, it might result in permanent paralysis in the face muscles and deafness in the patient,” he said.

Verma said that in most cases, the symptoms of RHS are different from one individual to the next.

“VZV can be triggered by both stress and a weakened immune system. Some of the other symptoms include weakness on one side of the face, feeling of spinning, severe ache in the ear, and some form of hearing impairment. It can also cause ringing in the ears or make sounds appear louder than usual.

"In rare cases, an individual may also experience, nausea, loss of taste, dry mouth, or dry eyes. If the virus spreads to the brain and spinal cord, it may cause drowsiness, headaches, and confusion,” he said.

“When it comes to this rare neurological disease, precaution is better than cure.

"Doctors around the globe recommend getting immunised. Antiviral medicines, physiotherapy, and eye drops are all used to treat RHS, and doctors also recommend wearing glasses to protect the infected eye from corneal discomfort,” he said.

“It is crucial to get the treatment started immediately. Depending on the intensity of the infection, one may not be able to fully recover from facial paralysis or continue to have some form of hearing impairment.

"One also needs to be extremely careful to care for the eye and not damage the cornea if they cannot fully close their eyes due to facial paralysis. Daily facial workouts are usually helpful as well,” he added. (UNI)

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