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Ramsay Hunt Syndrome

What is Ramsay Hunt Syndrome?

Ramsay Hunt syndrome is a common complication of shingles.

What is Shingles?

Shingles is an infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is the virus that causes chickenpox. Shingles occurs in people who have had chickenpox and represents a reactivation of the dormant varicella-zoster virus.

What Causes Ramsay Hunt Syndrome?

Ramsay Hunt syndrome is caused by the spread of the varicella-zoster virus to facial nerves.

Symptoms of Ramsay Hunt Syndrome

The most common symptoms of Ramsay Hunt Syndrome are:

Types of Ramsay Hunt Syndrome

There are two main types of Ramsay Hunt Syndrome: Type 1 and Type 2.

Ramsay Hunt syndrome Type I consists of facial paralysis, ear pain, vertigo, ringing in the ears and blistering rash on the ear on one side of the face, all caused by infection with herpes virus 3. The virus spreads to the nerves in the face.

Ramsay Hunt syndrome Type II refers to a group of degenerative neurological disorders. Symptoms of these disorders, which get worse over time, include epilepsy, mental retardation, jerking muscle spasms or tremors, problems with muscle coordination, and difficulty walking. Ramsay Hunt syndrome Type II usually begins in early adulthood, in the 30s. Muscle tremors may begin in one arm or leg and later spread to involve all the voluntary muscles. Arms are usually more affected than legs. In some cases, Ramsay Hunt syndrome Type II is caused by abnormal mitochondria in the body’s cells.

Can Ramsay Hunt Syndrome be Treated?

Yes. However, some cases of Ramsay Hunt syndrome do not require treatment. When treatment is needed, medications such as antiviral drugs or corticosteroids may be prescribed.

Complications of Ramsay Hunt Syndrome

In some cases of Ramsay Hunt syndrome, hearing loss may be permanent. Facial paralysis may be temporary or permanent.

Is Ramsay Hunt Syndrome similar to Bell's palsy?

Ramsay Hunt Syndrome and Bell's Palsy share the injury of facial nerves. However, Bell's palsy is most likely caused by an infection of the facial nerve by an unknown virus.

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