Justin Bieber is opening up about being diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt syndrome, telling fans he’s postponing concert dates until the symptoms subside. “I wanted to update you guys on what’s been going on,” Bieber revealed in an Instagram video update. “Obviously, as you can probably see from my face, I have this syndrome called Ramsay Hunt syndrome and it is from this virus that attacks the nerve in my ear and my facial nerves and has caused my face to have paralysis… As you can see, this eye is not blinking. I can’t smile with this side of my face, this nostril will not move, so there is full paralysis in this side of my face.” Here are five signs you have Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, according to experts. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.
Ramsay Hunt syndrome is a neurological condition caused by the varicella zoster virus (the same virus that causes chickenpox and shingles). “Ramsay Hunt syndrome (RHS) is a complication of shingles,” explains Facial Palsy UK. “It is the name given to describe the symptoms of a shingles infection affecting the facial nerve. Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox (varicella zoster virus, or VZV). As a result of this infection, the facial nerve becomes inflamed and irritated. If you develop RHS, you will have had chickenpox as a child but once the spots heal and you recover the virus continues to live in the nerves that it has infected by the virus. It is harmless unless it is reactivated and should this happen new symptoms will appear. This cluster of symptoms is called RHS.”
Ramsay Hunt syndrome is not a common condition, experts say. “Ramsay Hunt syndrome is rare—about 5 in 100,000 people,” says Saju Mathew, MD, MPH. “I look for underlying conditions that could predispose someone to it. Getting the chickenpox vaccine for those who haven’t had it and if over 50, the shingles vaccine can prevent it.”
“It can happen to anyone,” says Dr. Waleed Javaid, director of infection prevention and control at Mount Sinai Downtown in New York. “But it’s not something that people should be afraid of.”
According to a report Daniel Kim, MD, helped compile, Ramsay Hunt syndrome symptoms include facial paralysis, tinnitus, nausea, vomiting, vertigo, and intense ear pain. “Facial muscles affected by nerve palsy may be weak or feel stiff and may result in the inability of affected individuals to smile, wrinkle the forehead or close their eye on the affected side. In some cases, speech may become slurred. Most cases of Ramsay Hunt syndrome have a reddish (erythematous), painful, blistering (vesicular) rash that affects the outer portion of the ear (pinna) and often the external ear canal.”
Antiviral medications are the best method of treating Ramsay Hunt syndrome, experts say. “Strong anti-inflammatory drugs called steroids (such as prednisone) are usually given,” says Mount Sinai. “Antiviral medicines, such as acyclovir or valacyclovir may be given.”
Recovery from Ramsay Hunt syndrome can take months, and even then there might be lingering symptoms. “This is pretty serious as you can see,” Bieber tells his fans. “I wish this wasn’t the case but obviously, my body is telling me I got to slow down and I hope you guys understand and I’ll be using this time to rest and relax and get back to 100% so that I can do what I was born to do. I got to get my rest on so that I can get my face back to where it’s supposed to be. I’m gonna to get better and I’m doing all these facial exercises to get my face back to normal and it will go back to normal, it’s just time. We don’t know how much time it’s gonna be but it’s gonna be ok and I have hope and I trust God and I trust that this is all gonna, it’s all for a reason and I’m not sure what that is right now but in the meantime, I’m gonna rest. I love you guys, peace.”