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Last weekend, Justin Bieber made his fans worried when appearing in a strange and somewhat scary image. Specifically, half of Bieber’s face seems to be paralyzed. His right eye doesn’t move in sync with his left eye.
The 28-year-old Canadian singer also can’t blink one eyelid, can’t open half of his right mouth, and even his right nostril. Bieber explains the reason is because he is suffering from a rare syndrome called Ramsay Hunt Syndrome.
This syndrome is caused by a virus. “It was this virus that attacked my ear nerve and facial nerve and made my face paralysed“, the male singer said.As you can see my side eye is not blinking down. I can’t smile with this half face. And the nostril on that side can’t move either.”
If you haven’t heard of Ramsay Hunt syndrome, you’re really not alone. It only suddenly became famous overnight when it was mentioned by Justin Bieber.
But the strain of the virus that causes this syndrome is actually very familiar. In fact, it may be more famous than Justin Bieber. In this article, we learn about a rare syndrome – caused by this not-so-rare virus strain.
What is Ramsay Hunt Syndrome?
Named after the American neuroscientist Jame Ramsay Hunt (1872-1937) who discovered it, Ramsay Hunt is a syndrome caused by the Varicella zoster virus when it attacks the upper nerves. face, causing inflammation and causing temporary facial paralysis.
The Varicella zoster virus was once famous, because it is the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you get chickenpox and recover from it, some of the varicella zoster virus can live in your nerves for years, even a lifetime.
However, they only exist there in an inactive state. Varicella zoster will not cause any symptoms or illness at this time.
But unfortunately for 1 in 20,000 people, the varicella zoster virus will suddenly become reactivated at some point in their life, when their immune system – for some reason – is weakened. and can no longer contain the virus.
Varicella zoster will now revolt and attack the 7th cranial nerve, which helps you control facial movements.
Dr Anna Wald, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Washington School of Medicine, said:When the nerves pass through your face, they loop through fairly narrow bony tubes. Once inflamed, they swell and lose their ability to function.”
As a result, one side of your face may now be paralyzed like the condition that Justin Bieber is suffering from.
Look out for early symptoms when the Varicella zoster virus emerges
Now, since most of us have had chickenpox in our lifetime, you may be worried whether the Varicella zoster virus is still in you and when it might resurgence.
According to the Mayoclinic health nonprofit website, the two main signs to recognize Ramsay Hunt syndrome when it occurs are:
Painful red rashes, or blisters that appear on, in, or around one ear
– One side of your face is getting weaker until you can’t move
Often, these two symptoms will occur at the same time. But sometimes one symptom will appear earlier than the other. And you should see your doctor within 3 days of them starting, because early treatment will determine whether you will recover or not.
In addition, some other symptoms of Ramsay Hunt syndrome are:
– Ear hurt
– Hearing loss
– Difficulty closing one eye
– Feeling dizzy
– Change of taste
– Dry mouth and eyes
How is Ramsay Hunt syndrome treated?
Dr Wand said patients with this syndrome like Justin Bieber will be prescribed antiviral drugs to kill Varicella zoster. Some patients will need steroids, pain relievers, and even anti-anxiety medications.
If detected and treated early, most patients will be completely cured. But recovery can take anywhere from 15 days to 3 months. That’s why Justin Bieber said he had to cancel some of his concerts.
The male singer said that he is also practicing physical therapy to soon regain the ability to control his face. “Everything will be back to normal – it’s just a matter of time“, Bieber said.
But for patients who do not receive early treatment, what happens?
According to the British charity Facial Palsy, if you are given antiviral medication within 3 days of discovering Ramsay Hunt syndrome, up to 70% of you will make a full recovery.
The number will drop to 50% if you take the medicine more than 3 days later. Mayoclinic says complications of Ramsay Hunt syndrome when left untreated include:
– Weakness on one side of the face and permanent hearing loss
– Injury to the eye, causing pain and blurred vision
– Chronic pain caused by nerves
How to prevent disease, is Ramsay Hunt syndrome contagious?
Doctors say Ramsay Hunt is not contagious except in one case, when it occurs in people who have not been vaccinated and have not had chickenpox. The syndrome can eventually make them sick.
Until the blisters clear, patients are advised to avoid contact with people with low immune function and those who have not had chickenpox, or have not been vaccinated against the disease.
To prevent Ramsay Hunt syndrome and a resurgence of the Varicella zoster virus, Mayoclinic recommends that children get the chickenpox vaccine periodically, which can reduce the chance of contracting the virus later in life.
In addition, people over the age of 50 should also be vaccinated against diseases caused by the Varicella zoster virus.
The average person should build a healthy lifestyle to strengthen the immune system, which is a prerequisite to keep the Varicella zoster virus inactivated if they persist in your body.
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