All About Ramsay Hunt Syndrome
Ramsay Hunt syndrome is a rare neurological disorder caused by reactivation of the varicella zoster virus, a virus frequently associated with chickenpox. It affects the facial nerve and can cause hearing loss, a blister-like rash, and temporary facial paralysis.
Symptoms of Ramsay Hunt syndrome can vary. Regardless, these symptoms must be evaluated and treated immediately after onset. Otherwise, they can cause long-lasting health issues.
Babak Azizzadeh, MD, FACS, and Director of the Facial Paralysis Institute, is world-renowned for his cutting-edge treatment of temporary and permanent facial paralysis. He can evaluate a patient dealing with symptoms of Ramsay Hunt syndrome. From here, Dr. Azizzadeh can determine the best course of action to help his patient alleviate their symptoms.
What Is Ramsay Hunt Syndrome?
Ramsay Hunt syndrome refers to a condition that can occur after a shingles outbreak that impacts the facial nerve near one of the ears. It is named after physician James Ramsay Hunt, who first described the condition in 1907.
The varicella zoster virus can remain in a person’s body for an extended period of time, even after he or she overcomes chickenpox. If the virus gets reactivated at any time, it can lead to Ramsay Hunt syndrome, along with a wide range of physical symptoms.
Symptoms of Ramsay Hunt Syndrome
Ramsay Hunt syndrome patients often experience a painful red rash with blisters in and around one of the ears. They are also prone to facial weakness or paralysis that occurs on the same side as the affected ear.
Patients can simultaneously experience a rash and facial weakness or paralysis. Or, they can experience either symptom on its own.
In addition to a rash and/or facial weakness or paralysis, Ramsay Hunt syndrome can cause any of the following symptoms:
- Hearing loss
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Ear pain
- Loss of taste or change in taste perception
- Dry eyes and/or mouth
For those who experience any of the aforementioned symptoms, meet with a doctor. Symptoms of Ramsay Hunt syndrome can replicate those associated with Bell’s palsy and an acoustic neuroma. Fortunately, a doctor can perform an evaluation to determine the root cause of a patient’s symptoms and treat them accordingly.
Ramsay Hunt Syndrome Treatment
The ideal treatment for Ramsay Hunt syndrome depends on the patient. In some instances, a doctor will prescribe antiviral drugs to limit the effects of the varicella zoster virus. A doctor may also recommend corticosteroids to boost the effectiveness of antiviral drugs.
In the event that Ramsay Hunt syndrome causes severe facial paralysis, Dr. Azizzadeh can help. At this point, Dr. Azizzadeh can assess a patient to determine what treatments can be used to address this issue.
Ramsay Hunt Syndrome Facial Paralysis Treatment Options
Dr. Azizzadeh can use Botox injections to treat Ramsay Hunt syndrome facial paralysis. He can target specific muscles in the face and use Botox to relax them and create a more balanced and symmetrical appearance.
Botox can be a safe and effective treatment for many Ramsay Hunt syndrome patients coping with facial paralysis. However, the results of Botox injections last up to four months. Therefore, patients may require periodic Botox treatments to treat their facial paralysis symptoms.
Along with Botox, Dr. Azizzadeh offers several surgical treatment options. Dr. Azizzadeh recommends surgery if it can be administered safely and deliver long-lasting results. He crafts an appropriate treatment plan to restore facial animation for his patient. This plan can include a cross facial nerve transplant, masseter-to-facial nerve transfer, or other surgical procedures.
Ramsay Hunt Syndrome Recovery
The recovery time following a Ramsay Hunt syndrome treatment depends on the patient. If medications are used, patients can achieve the full results of treatment within a few weeks. Comparatively, Botox injections can start to relieve facial paralysis symptoms within a few days of treatment. For patients who undergo surgery, they may require eight months or longer to overcome their facial paralysis symptoms. These patients may also require physical therapy to improve facial muscle coordination and strength in the months following surgery.
Dealing with Ramsay Hunt Syndrome and Facial Paralysis? Schedule a Consultation with Dr. Azizzadeh
Ramsay Hunt syndrome can cause facial paralysis that hampers a person’s facial appearance. By meeting with Dr. Azizzadeh, a Ramsay Hunt syndrome patient can explore treatment options for facial paralysis. Dr. Azizzadeh can help this patient identify the ideal treatment to achieve long-lasting relief from their facial paralysis symptoms.
Dr. Azizzadeh offers in-person consultations in Beverly Hills and virtual consultations via Zoom to patients who want to treat Ramsay Hunt syndrome and facial paralysis. To learn more or schedule a consultation with Dr. Azizzadeh, contact us online or call us today at (310) 923-7793.