What’s Ramsay Hunt Syndrome Justin Bieber Suffers From?

The star, with 241 million subscribers on Instagram, announced in a video posted on the social network that she suffers from a disease that paralyzes half of her face.

Ramsay Hunt syndrome, from which singer Justin Bieber, who has just canceled two concerts, suffers, is a rare disorder that paralyzes one side of his face and is caused by reactivation of the chickenpox virus.

It was discovered in 1907 by the neurologist Ramsay Hunt, after whom it is named. The syndrome is a rare neurological disorder characterized by facial nerve palsy (facial paralysis) and a rash that affects the ear or mouth.

Symptoms vary from case to case. Those affected usually suffer from facial nerve palsy and ear rash. These two symptoms do not always occur at the same time. In most cases, only one side of the face is affected (unilaterally), according to the website of the American organization NORD, which aims to provide support to people with rare diseases.

Facial muscles affected by nerve palsy can be weak or stiff, which can cause affected individuals to not be able to smile, frown or close their eyes on the affected side. In some cases, speech may become confused. In most cases, a reddish (erythematous), painful, vesicular (vesicular) rash appears that affects the outer part of the ear (pinna), and often the outer ear canal.

Justin Bieber has half his face paralyzed, and it is not known why the virus is reactivated and affects the facial nerve. Screenshot from her Instagram video

“The diagnosis is often made because of this rash in the form of blisters around the ear or inside the ear canal,” says Benjamin Davido, an infectious disease specialist at Garches Hospital (AP-HP Hôpitaux de Paris). In some cases, the rash, including painful blisters, can affect the mouth, palate and upper throat. Other symptoms are possible, such as tinnitus, ear pain (otalgia), sensorineural hearing loss, hyperacusis (amplification of sounds). Sometimes sufferers also suffer from vomiting or dizziness.

what are the causes?

Ramsay Hunt syndrome is caused by the varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox and shingles. The virus can lie dormant for decades in a person who had chickenpox as a child. Reactivation of varicella zoster virus leads to shingles and in some cases progresses to Ramsay Hunt syndrome. Why the virus reactivates and affects the facial nerve in Ramsay Hunt syndrome is not known.

Which populations are affected?

This syndrome affects men and women in equal numbers. It is estimated that five out of 100,000 people develop this syndrome each year in the United States, according to NORD. Some researchers believe, however, that cases remain undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, making it difficult to determine the actual incidence of the disorder in the general population.

Anyone who has had chickenpox can potentially develop Ramsay Hunt syndrome. However, most cases occur in the elderly, especially those over the age of 60 or with weakened immunity. “It’s amazing to do Ramsay Hunt at the age of Justin Bieber,” emphasizes Benjamin Davido. But “an imperfect lifestyle or the context of overwork can come to mind, because then we are more susceptible to viral infections,” he continues.

What are the treatments?

Treatment for Ramsay Hunt syndrome usually involves antiviral drugs, such as acyclovir or famciclovir, in combination with corticosteroids, such as prednisone.

Rehabilitation, that is “It’s important to start early,” generally allows for a good recovery, says Benjamin Davido. But the consequences continue “About 30% of cases”.

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