Pop star singer, Justin Bieber on Friday revealed that a viral disease has paralysed one side of his face.
Speaking about the reason behind the recent cancellations of his shows, Bieber said he has developed a rare condition called the Ramsay Hunt Syndrome.
In an Instagram video, Bieber said the condition has fully paralysed the right side of his face.
“As you can see, this eye is not blinking. I can’t smile on this side of my face… So there’s full paralysis on this side of my face,” he said.
The 28-year-old Grammy winner added that he’s doing facial exercises to get his face back to normal.
“This is pretty serious as you can see. I wish this wasn’t the case but obviously, my body is telling me I got to slow down and I hope you guys understand and I’ll be using this time to rest and relax and get back to 100 per cent so that I can do what I was born to do,” he said.
What is Ramsey Hunt Syndrome
Ramsay Hunt syndrome is a rare neurological disorder characterised by paralysis of the facial nerve (facial palsy) and a rash affecting the ear or mouth. Ear abnormalities such as ringing in the ears (tinnitus) and hearing loss may also be present, according to the NORD Rare Disease Centers of Excellence.
Ramsay Hunt syndrome is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox in children and shingles (herpes zoster) in adults.
In cases of Ramsay Hunt syndrome, a previously inactive varicella-zoster virus is reactivated and spreads to affect the facial nerve.
However, experts say data on the incidence of facial palsy is lacking in Nigeria.
Signs & Symptoms
Experts say the symptoms of Ramsay Hunt syndrome vary from case to case. Affected individuals usually experience paralysis (palsy) of the facial nerve and a rash affecting the ear but the two symptoms do not always occur simultaneously. In most cases, only one side of the face is affected (unilateral).
Facial muscles affected by nerve palsy may be weak or feel stiff and may result in the inability of affected individuals to smile, wrinkle the forehead or close their eyes on the affected side. In some cases, speech may become slurred.
“Most cases of Ramsay Hunt syndrome have a reddish (erythematous), painful, blistering (vesicular) rash that affects the outer portion of the ear (pinna) and often the external ear canal. In some cases, the rash, including painful blisters, may also affect the mouth, soft palate, and top portion of the throat. Some individuals with Ramsay Hunt syndrome may have facial palsy with evidence of varicella-zoster virus through testing (e.g., blood tests), but without the associated skin abnormalities. These cases may be referred to as zoster sine herpete.
“Additional symptoms affecting the ear include ringing in the ear (tinnitus) and ear pain (otalgia). In some cases, ear pain may be intense. Pain may spread to affect the neck. Some affected individuals develop sensorineural hearing loss, a condition in which sound vibrations are not properly transmitted to the brain due to a defect of the inner ear or the auditory nerve, resulting in hearing loss. Hearing loss is usually temporary (transient), however, in rare cases it may become permanent.
“In some cases, affected individuals may experience hyperacusis, a condition in which sounds appear louder (often dramatically) than normal. This can cause tremendous discomfort for affected individuals.
“Additional symptoms that may be present include nausea, vomiting, and a sensation that one’s surroundings are spinning (vertigo). In rare cases, loss of taste, dry mouth, and dry eyes may also occur,” the experts at the NORD Rare Disease Centers of Excellence said.
According to an online health portal, the syndrome can lead to permanent hearing loss and facial weakness, and eye damage.
“For most people, the hearing loss and facial paralysis associated with Ramsay Hunt syndrome could, however, be temporary, but can become permanent.
“The facial weakness caused by Ramsay Hunt syndrome may make it difficult for you to close your eyelid. When this happens, the cornea, which protects your eye, can become damaged. This damage can cause eye pain and blurred vision.
“This painful condition occurs when a shingles infection damages nerve fibers. The messages sent by these nerve fibers become confused and exaggerated, causing pain that may last long after other signs and symptoms of Ramsay Hunt syndrome have faded,” it said.
According to Medical News Today, Ramsay Hunt syndrome is commonly misdiagnosed, as many doctors have never encountered the condition.
“A doctor will probably make a diagnosis if the hallmark signs of facial weakness and a blister-like rash are detected. A nerve conduction study may be performed to determine the extent of damage to the facial nerve, as well as to define the likelihood of recovery.
“A sample of the fluid in one of the blisters in the ear may be taken to confirm the diagnosis. The doctor may also use a tear or blood sample.
“An imaging scan, such as an MRI, may reveal swelling of the facial nerves. Scans can also help the doctor determine whether the virus has reached the brain or other nerves,” MNT said.
The web-based outlet for medical information and news said early treatment improves the chance of a complete recovery.
“The doctor is likely to prescribe an antiviral medication, as well as a corticosteroid for the swelling and pain. The patient may have to take diazepam (Valium) for the symptoms of vertigo.
“If facial weakness persists after the completion of medical treatment, the physician may recommend physical therapy to help regain proper use of the facial muscles.
“An injection into the upper eyelid of botulinum toxin type A, more commonly known as Botox, may help those who have trouble closing one eye. An eye patch may help protect the affected eye.
“Patients may take from a few weeks to several months to recover from Ramsay Hunt syndrome. If treatment is delayed and nerve damage is severe, a full recovery is much less likely,” it noted.
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