The office of Dianne Feinstein (89), a California Democrat diagnosed with shingles back in February, confirmed on Thursday that she 'continues' to experience complications from a viral illness called Ramsay Hunt Syndrome. The same virus that causes chickenpox and shingles, varicella-zoster is responsible for the syndrome.
Justin Bieber, the pop star, announced in June 2022 that his face had been partially paralyzed. In a video on YouTube, he told his fans that the virus had affected 'the nerves in my ear and facial nerves which has paralyzed my face. This eye does not blink. This side of my mouth is not able to smile. This nostril won't move.
Ramsay Hunt Syndrome is a rare neurological condition that occurs when varicella-zoster infects the nerve in the brain near the inner ear. The virus can lie dormant after having chickenpox or shingles in adulthood. It is unknown why the virus reactivates to cause symptoms of Ramsay Hunt.
In the same month, he told his fans he was slowly improving after he did facial exercises. He said, "Each day is getting better." In March, he posted a video with the caption "Wait for it" and then showed a big smile.
About 5 people out of 100,000 in the United States are affected by this syndrome each year. However, some medical professionals think that many cases go undiagnosed.
The Cleveland Clinic stated that 'this makes it more difficult to determine its true frequency'.
According to the Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai, symptoms can include a painful, itchy rash that appears inside and outside of the ear canal, and sometimes attacks the tongue or roof of the mouth. The inner ear is affected, so people can experience vertigo, or the sensation that things are spinning around them.
Ramsay Hunt syndrome may also lead to hearing loss in the affected side of the facial region. It can cause facial paralysis, weakness or drooping on the affected side.
This weakness can make it difficult to close one eye, make facial expressions, and eat, as food may fall out the side of a weakened mouth.
Prednisone, a steroid used to reduce inflammation, and pain medications are prescribed. Antiviral medications that treat the herpes virus, such as acyclovir and valacyclovir, may be prescribed.
According to Cleveland Clinic, about 70% of those with Ramsay Hunt will be able to regain a complete or "almost complete" function of their facial muscles. The recovery time can vary depending on the severity and last up to one year.
The chances of full recovery increase if you begin treatment within three working days of the onset of symptoms. The Cleveland Clinic states on its website that early diagnosis and prompt antiviral treatment seem to improve the long-term outcome.