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About ramsay-hunt syndrome

What is ramsay-hunt syndrome?

Ramsay Hunt syndrome (RHS) is a rare neurological disorder characterized 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. Ramsay Hunt syndrome is caused by the varicella zoster virus (VZV), the same virus that causes chickenpox in children and shingles (herpes zoster) in adults. In cases of Ramsay Hunt syndrome, previously inactive (dormant) varicella-zoster virus is reactivated and spreads to affect the facial nerve.

Several different names have been used to denote this disorder in the medical literature often causing confusion. The disorder is named after James Ramsay Hunt, a physician who first described the disorder in 1907. Year agos, more than one disorder bore the designation Ramsay Hunt syndrome. Ramsay-Hunt syndrome is now used to denote the disorder described in this report. The disorder is also sometimes known as herpes zoster oticus because of the characteristic ear rash. However, some physicians use herpes zostic oticus only for the ear rash and Ramsay Hunt syndrome for the combination of ear rash and facial paralysis.

What are the symptoms for ramsay-hunt syndrome?

The most visible symptoms of Ramsay Hunt syndrome are a shingles rash near one or both ears and abnormal Paralysis in the face. With this syndrome, facial Paralysis is noticeable on the side of the face that’s affected by the shingles rash. When your face is paralyzed, the muscles may feel harder or impossible to control, as if they’ve lost their strength.

A shingles rash can be spotted by its red, pus-filled blisters. When you have Ramsay Hunt syndrome, the rash may be inside, outside, or around the ear. In some cases, the rash can also appear in your mouth, especially on the roof of your mouth or top of your throat. In other cases, you may not have a visible rash at all, but still have some Paralysis in your face.

Other common symptoms of Ramsay Hunt syndrome include:

  • Pain in your affected ear
  • Pain in your neck
  • ringing noise in your ear, also called tinnitus
  • hearing loss
  • trouble closing the eye on the affected side of your face
  • decreased sense of taste
  • a feeling like the room is spinning, also called vertigo
  • slightly slurred speech

What are the causes for ramsay-hunt syndrome?

Ramsay Hunt syndrome isn’t contagious on its own, but it does mean you have the shingles virus. Exposing someone to the varicella-zoster virus if they haven’t had a previous infection can give them chicken pox or shingles.

What are the treatments for ramsay-hunt syndrome?

The most common treatments for Ramsay Hunt syndrome are medications that treat the virus infection. Your doctor may prescribe famciclovir or acyclovir along with prednisone or other corticosteroid medications or injections.

They may also recommend treatments based on the specific symptoms that you have. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or antiseizure medications like carbamazepine can help reduce the pain of Ramsay Hunt syndrome. Antihistamines can help with vertigo symptoms, such as dizziness or feeling like the room is spinning. Eye drops or similar fluids can help keep your eye lubricated and prevent cornea damage.

Home remedies

You can treat a shingles rash at home by keeping the rash clean and using a cold compress to minimize pain. You can also take over-the-counter pain medications, including NSAIDs like ibuprofen.

What are the risk factors for ramsay-hunt syndrome?

Because Ramsay Hunt syndrome is caused by shingles, it has the same causes and risk factors. These include:

  • previously having chicken pox
  • being older than 60 years (it rarely occurs in children)
  • having a weak or compromised immune system

Is there a cure/medications for ramsay-hunt syndrome?

Ramsay Hunt syndrome has few lasting complications. However, if it goes untreated for too long, you may have some permanent muscle weakness in your face or lose some of your hearing. See your doctor as soon as you notice any combination of symptoms to make sure the condition gets treated quickly.

Vaccines exist for both chicken pox and shingles. Getting children vaccinated when they’re young can help prevent chicken pox outbreaks from ever happening. Getting a shingles vaccination when you’re older than 60 years can help prevent shingles outbreaks as well.

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