Understanding The Disease Ramsay Hunt Syndrome
The singer Justin Bieber recently announced that he is suffering from a rare disease called Ramsay Hunt syndrome. That is a paralysis on half of his face.
The name given to this rare disease was named after James Ramsay Hunt, a physician and World War 1 veteran who identified the illness in 1907.
In medical literature, this condition has been given a variety of labels, which might be confusing. More than one condition was known as Ramsay Hunt syndrome a few years ago.
What is Ramsay Hunt syndrome? It is a rare neurological condition affecting the face. The syndrome is caused by a virus called varicella-zoster, which is the same virus that causes chickenpox in a child and shingles in an adult.
This virus can lay inactive for decades. It is unclear why the virus reactivates at which it then affects the facial nerve plus
other related symptoms that it brings. The varicella-zoster virus infects a nerve in the skull that is located near the inner ear.
Some doctors, due to the prominent ear rash generally associated with the disease, diagnose it to be known as herpes zoster oticus.
Meanwhile, other doctors diagnose Ramsay Hunt syndrome for both the ear rash and facial paralysis.
According to Mayo Clinic, the hearing loss and facial paralysis related to Ramsay Hunt syndrome are temporary, nevertheless, can become permanent.
Scientists at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, state the other symptoms include a painful rash inside and outside the ear canal, which can also affect the tongue and roof of the mouth. People with the illness may have vertigo, which is the impression of things spinning around you, or tinnitus noise in the ear, as a result of the inner ear involvement.
Hearing loss on the affected side of the face is also a possibility with Ramsay Hunt syndrome. It can also induce weakness, facial drooping or paralysis on the side of the face that has been infected by the virus.
The syndrome makes eating almost impossible and causes food to fall out of the side of the weakened mouth. Closing one’s eyes, creating facial expressions, and eating might be challenging.
According to Mount Sinai, complete healing is unlikely. Nonetheless, some people recover in a matter of months. The sooner it’s discovered, the better the chances of recovery.
To manage Ramsay Hunt syndrome, steroids, such as prednisone, are used to reduce inflammation, as well as pain relievers. Antiviral medications for the herpes family, such as acyclovir or valacyclovir, may be recommended at times.
Males and females are equally affected by Ramsay Hunt syndrome. The disease affects both low immune and high immune patients, with a yearly frequency of approximately five per 100,000 persons. Meanwhile, in Nigeria, data on the prevalence of Ramsay Hunt syndrome is scarce.
According to some experts, occurrences of Ramsay Hunt syndrome go untreated or are misdiagnosed, making it difficult to estimate the disorder’s true prevalence in the general population.
However, a study carried out at the Murtala Muhammed Specialist Hospital (MMSH), Kano, Northwest Nigeria on patients with facial problems, identified a total of 698 patients with facial issues. Facial palsy was found in 594 (85 per cent) of the patients. Males (56.2 per cent) had a higher frequency of facial palsy than females; the 20–34 year age group (40.3 per cent) had a higher prevalence; the most prevalent cause of facial palsy was determined to be idiopathic (39.1 per cent) and was most common among businessmen (31.6 per cent). The most common facial palsy was on the right side (52.2 per cent). Facial palsy was most common in 2003 (25.3 per cent), but declined in 2004.
Those at high risk of the syndrome are people who have had chickenpox in the past. The disease is not contagious, however, reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus can provoke chickenpox in people who have not once had chickenpox or been immunised for it. The infection can be severe for those with weak immune systems.
The majority of instances, nevertheless, involve older persons, particularly those over the age of 60. Children with the syndrome are extremely rare.