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The 28-year-old popstar Justin Bieber took to Instagram to reveal that he has been diagnosed with a rare disorder that has unfortunately paralyzed half of his face. The popstar shared in his post that he had been diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt syndrome after a virus had damaged the nerves in his ear. 

In the three-minute long Instagram video, Justin Bieber said that the condition he was suffering is “pretty serious." He is currently on his Justice tour in North America and has cancelled performances in Toronto, Washington DC and New York. 

The popstar said, “it is from this virus that attacks the nerve in my ear in my facial nerves and has caused my face to have paralysis. As you can see, this eye is not blinking. I can’t smile on this side of my face. This nostril will not move, so there’s full paralysis on this side of my face."

What is Ramsay Hunt syndrome? 

Ramsay Hunt syndrome, also known as herpes zoster oticus, is a late complication of varicella-zoster virus infection that results in inflammation of the geniculate ganglion of cranial nerve VII, according to the United States National Library of Medicine.

The condition is described “as a triad of ipsilateral facial paralysis, otalgia, and vesicles near the ear and auditory canal" and unfortunately its diagnosis is often missed or delayed, which can lead to an increased incidence of long-term complications. The disorder is considered self-limiting, but treatment is targeted at decreasing the total duration of the illness as well as providing analgesia and preventing the complications that can occur. 

Named after James Ramsay Hunt, a physician who first described the disorder in 1907, the disorder is sometimes known as herpes zoster oticus because of the characteristic ear rash. 

What are the symptoms of Ramsay Hunt syndrome?

The symptoms of Ramsay Hunt syndrome include paralysis (palsy) of the facial nerve and a rash affecting the ear. Often, only one side of the face is affected, and the 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 eye on the affected side. Additionally, in some cases, speech may become slurred. 

Other symptoms of the Ramsay Hunt syndrome include reddish painful, blistering rash affecting the outer portion of the ear and the external ear canal, rashes, including painful blisters, affecting the mouth, soft palate, and top portion of the throat. Some patients may have facial palsy with evidence of varicella-zoster virus through testing. Additionally, ear pain may be intense and may spread to neck, permanent hearing loss in some cases.

What causes this debilitating syndrome?

According to the US based National Organization for Rare Diseases, Ramsay Hunt syndrome is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is the same virus that causes chickenpox and shingles. 

It is important to note that the virus can remain dormant for decades in a person who has had chickenpox as a child. “Reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus results in shingles and, in some cases, develops into Ramsay Hunt syndrome," the report said. Interestingly, the actual reason for the virus reactivating and its affects on the facial nerve in Ramsay Hunt syndrome is not known yet.

 

 

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