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Ramsay Hunt Syndrome: Know the causes, symptoms and treatment

The condition is named after James Ramsay Hunt, who in 1907 identified the clinical symptoms and the nerves involved in the condition.  In case the treatment is delayed or missed then there can be long-term complications.

Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, neurological disease, Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV), health news,
One with this syndrome will notice symptoms such as painful, red rash and blisters in and around the ear, and facial paralysis on the same side. (File)

By Dr. Kavita Barhate

Did you know? Having Ramsay Hunt Syndrome can fully paralyze one’s face. There is a lack of awareness regarding this condition. In the below article, we help you to understand it. Seek timely treatment if you are detected with this condition.
 
Ramsay Hunt Syndrome is a neurological disease in which the Varicella Zoster virus leads to inflammation of the nerves involved in facial movements. When the nerves get inflamed, they cannot function, and there can be temporary facial palsy or paralysis. Here, the facial muscles in the infected person fail to receive signals to function properly. There are 12 cranial nerves in the body, and this syndrome is a viral infection affecting the 7th cranial nerve involved in facial movements. You will be shocked to know that the inflammation occurring due to VaricellaZoster Virus makes the nerve ineffective.
 
The symptoms: One with this syndrome will notice symptoms such as painful, red rash and blisters in and around the ear, and facial paralysis on the same side.  A rash can be seen on the eardrum, the ear canal, and the earlobe, inside the mouth, and on the tongue. There is hearing loss, vertigo, or spinning sensation, weakness of one side of the face, droopy face, and difficulty in closing one eye and eating. The condition is named after James Ramsay Hunt, who in 1907 identified the clinical symptoms and the nerves involved in the condition.  In case the treatment is delayed or missed then there can be long-term complications.

The causes: The Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV) is the same virus that causes chickenpox and shingles along with this condition. This virus belongs to the herpesvirus group, which stays in the body and attacks the nerves. VZV can get reactivated when one’s immune system takes a hit. Stress can also impact the immunity leading to this condition. Various studies also reveal that T-cell dysfunction due to Coronavirus can also reactivate VZV. Prompt treatment will aid in quick recovery and lower the chances of severe nerve damage.

The complications: Changes in the appearance of the face (disfigurement) from loss of movement, eye damage resulting in a loss of vision, change in taste, persistent pain (postherpetic neuralgia), and spasm of the face muscles or eyelids.
 
The diagnosis:  Blood tests for varicella-zoster virus, Electromyography (EMG), MRI, and skin tests for the varicella-zoster virus can help in the diagnosis of this syndrome.

The treatment: The disease is not contagious but can cause chickenpox in those not vaccinated for the disease. Get vaccinated as recommended by the doctor. Your treating doctor will prescribe anti-viral drugs, steroids, and physiotherapy. One will have to daily do facial exercises every day, take care of eyes, use tear drops, and wear glasses. The disease is reversible, and one can get cured around three months after initiating the treatment so do not delay it.

(The author is Neurologist, SRV Mamta Hospital Dombivali. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of FinancialExpress.com.)

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