Author: Grace Lee
What is Ramsay Hunt Syndrome? What causes it?
Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, also known as herpes zoster oticus is characterized by the occurrence of a painful rash with fluid-filled blisters inside or around one ear and facial paralysis on one side of the face. Ramsay Hunt Syndrome is caused by varicella zoster virus (VZV) which is the same virus that causes chickenpox in children and shingles in adults. After chickenpox disappears, the virus remains in the nerves and can potentially be reactivated once you are older. When the virus is reactivated, it spreads and affects your facial nerves as well as triggering a shingles outbreak.
The two well known symptoms of Ramsay Hunt Syndrome include: painful fluid-filled blisters around or in one ear, and facial paralysis on the same side as the affected ear. Additional symptoms that may be present include: ear pain (otalgia), hearing loss, ringing in the ear (tinnitus), inability to close one eye, nausea, sensation of spinning (vertigo), change in taste perception, dry mouth and eyes.
Immediate treatment of Ramsay Hunt Syndrome can alleviate pain and decrease any risk of long-term complications from arising. Medications that might be prescribed are antiviral drugs such as acyclovir or famciclovir as well as corticosteroids like prednisone to help fight against the varicella zoster virus. Other medications including pain relievers may be advised especially if pain becomes unbearable and anti-anxiety medication such as diazepam (valium) which can help individuals that are experiencing vertigo.
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2021, October 12). Ramsay Hunt syndrome. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ramsay-hunt-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20351783
Ramsay Hunt Syndrome. (n.d.). NORD (National Organization for Rare Disorders). https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/ramsay-hunt-syndrome/#:~:text=Ramsay%20Hunt%20syndrome%20(RHS)%20is