Ramsay Hunt Disease - Health Center

Ramsay Hunt Disease

By Refadoc, Posted on : Tuesday, 15 September 2015 - 10:46 am IST

Ramsay Hunt Disease

Ramsay Hunt Disease – Basic Overview

Ramsay Hunt Disease, which is also known as Herpes Zoster Oticus occurs when a Shingles infection affects the facial nerve near the ears. Ramsay Hunt Disease can lead to paralysis of the face along with the hearing loss in the affected ear.

Ramsay Hunt Syndrome is caused due to the same virus which is responsible for causing Chickenpox. Once the chickenpox heals, the virus can remain dormant in the nerves. After a few years, the virus may reactivate. When the virus reactivates, it can affect the facial nerve and can lead to Ramsay Hunt Syndrome.

Immediate treatment of the condition can reduce the risk of complications due to the diseases such as permanent facial muscle weakness and deafness. 

Ramsay Hunt Syndrome – Causes

Ramsay Hunt Syndrome occurs in people who have suffered from Chickenpox in the past. However, once the patients have recovered from Chickenpox, the virus can remain dormant in the nerves for a long duration of time. Later on, when the virus becomes reactivated, it can lead to the formation of painful rashes accompanied by fluid filled blisters.

Ramsay Hunt Syndrome is a type of Shingles outbreak which affects the facial nerve found near to one of the ears. Hearing loss and one sided facial paralysis are the major outcomes of the syndrome. 

Ramsay Hunt Syndrome – Signs and Symptoms

The two major signs and symptoms of Ramsay Hunt Syndrome are as follows:

  1. Formation of red rashes accompanied by fluid filled blisters near the affected ear
  2. Facial weakness and one sided paralysis.

In most cases, the rashes and the paralysis occur at the same time. However, in some of the rarer cases, the rashes occur before the paralysis or vice versa. People suffering from the syndrome may also experience the following signs and symptoms:

  1.       Pain in the ears
  2.       Loss of hearing
  3.       Ringing sensation in the ears (Tinnitus)
  4.       Difficulty closing one eye
  5.       Vertigo

It is recommended to seek immediate medical attention if you experience facial paralysis or rashes over your skin. Timely treatment of the condition can prevent long term complications arising due to the disease. 

Tests and Diagnosis of Ramsay Hunt Syndrome

Doctors are able to determine and identify Ramsay Hunt Syndrome based on the medical history of the patient. Apart from that, a physical examination and the symptoms of the disease are quite helpful during the diagnosis of the condition. In order to confirm the diagnosis of the condition, the doctor may draw out a sample of the fluid from the rashes and the blisters and send it for testing.

Treatment and Drugs for Ramsay Hunt Syndrome

Proper treatment for the syndrome can help to ease the pain and decreases the risk of contracting long term complications. The following medications are widely used in order to treat the condition:

  1. Antiviral Drugs: These include medications such as Acyclovir, Famciclovir and Valacyclovir in order to combat the virus associated with chickenpox.
  2. Corticosteroids:  A short term course of high dose prednisone helps to boost the affect of the antiviral drugs.
  3. Anti Anxiety Medications: These include drugs such as Valium in order to help relieve the vertigo sensation.
  4. Pain Relievers: The pain caused due to Ramsay Hunt Syndrome can be quite intense and severe. Therefore, narcotic drugs such as Oxycodone and Hydrocodone are needed.
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