MT Ghozali is a researcher and lecturer of pharmaceutical sciences with extensive experience in patient education.
Ramsay Hunt Syndrome: A Brief Overview
Ramsay Hunt Syndrome (herpes zoster oticus) is a rare neurological condition causing facial paralysis and hearing loss in the affected ear, in addition to the painful shingles outbreak. The syndrome develops when a shingles outbreak affects the facial nerve near one of your ears.
The chickenpox-causing virus is the culprit of Ramsay Hunt Syndrome. The virus stays in your nerves after chickenpox has been cured. This might occur years later, in addition, your facial nerves may be impacted if this occurs.
The treatment for Ramsay Hunt Syndrome might immediately reduce the risk of consequences such as irreversible facial muscle paralysis and hearing loss.
Symptoms of Ramsay Hunt Syndrome
There are two main signs and symptoms of Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, including:
- A severe red rash with fluid-filled blisters around one ear.
- Facial weakness or paralysis on the side of the affected ear.
In fact, the rash and facial paralysis come out at once. Sometimes, one paves the way for the other and the rash never comes out afterward.
You might also have these experiences when affected by the syndrome:
- Hearing loss.
- Buzzing in the ears (Tinnitus).
- Difficult to turn a blind eye.
- Loss of balance (vertigo).
- Taste disorder.
How Contagious Is Ramsay Hunt Syndrome?
In fact, this syndrome is not contagious. Yet, the herpes zoster virus identified within this syndrome blisters can spread to others and cause chickenpox in those who have never had chickenpox and have not been immunized against it.
The person affected by this syndrome should avoid himself or herself with others, such as newborns, pregnant women, immunocompromised people, and those who never had chickenpox, at least until all of the blisters have scabbed.
Is Bell's Palsy the Same Thing as Ramsay Hunt Syndrome?
Bell's palsy is caused by a viral infection that damages the facial nerve, however the likely viral source has yet to be discovered. The Varicella virus (Herpes zoster) causes Ramsay Hunt syndrome and chickenpox and shingles.
Bell's palsy does not cause a red rash like Ramsay Hunt syndrome. Furthermore, Ramsay Hunt syndrome frequently causes more severe than Bell's palsy. As a result, both can cause one-sided eyelid and mouth paralysis.
Dyssynergia cerebellaris myoclona is an uncommon nerve degenerative disease marked by progressive seizures, muscular spasms, and tremors. This disease as complex as Bell’s palsy, in addition, many Ramsay Hunt syndrome symptoms are mimicked. Therefore, several researchers refer to the disease as Ramsay Hunt syndrome type 2.
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Recommended Treatment Options for Ramsay Hunt Syndrome
The varicella zoster virus is inactive in a person's body for the rest of their lives. As a result, while there is no cure for the underlying cause of Ramsay Hunt syndrome, the symptoms can be effectively treated. According to the International Archives of Otorhinolaryngology, patients who receive an early diagnosis and adequate treatment have a high recovery rate.
Medication is used to treat Ramsay Hunt Syndrome. Medications aid in the control of viral infection, inflammation, and pain. Some lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables and exercising regularly, may help strengthen the immune system and prevent further flare-ups. Cold compresses and other home remedies can also be used to alleviate pain.
NOTE: To avoid complications, it is critical to seek treatment for Ramsay Hunt Syndrome as soon as possible. Complications such as permanent facial paralysis, corneal ulcers, muscle weakness, inappropriate nerve responses (synkinesis), and nerve pain can occur if left untreated for too long.
Recommended Medications for Ramsay Hunt Syndrome
Numerous medications can be used to treat Ramsay Hunt syndrome. Your specific symptoms and medical history will determine the type of medication you require. The following are the drug classes used to treat RHS.
Since they help prevent viral infection transmission, antivirals are the first-line medication for Ramsay Hunt syndrome.
According to research, antiviral medications can reduce or minimize nerve damage and increase the likelihood of facial weakness improving or resolving in people with Ramsay Hunt Syndrome. Zovirax, Famvir, and Valtrex are the most frequently prescribed antivirals for this condition.
A warning word: Antiviral medications have been linked to side effects such as headaches and dizziness.
Valium, an anti-anxiety medication, is sometimes prescribed to patients with Ramsay Hunt syndrome because it can help relieve vertigo symptoms. Valium is a benzodiazepine that works by amplifying the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA.
These medications have been linked to drowsiness and unsteadiness as side effects.
Since corticosteroids have a strong anti-inflammatory effect, they are frequently prescribed in conjunction with antivirals. In addition, steroids reduce inflammation and edema in the nerves, which can hasten recovery in affected nerves.
Prednisone is the most commonly prescribed steroid for Ramsay Hunt syndrome. Combined with the antiviral acyclovir within seven days of onset, it can prevent nerve degeneration and improve facial nerve palsy recovery rates.
Short-term corticosteroid use can cause headaches, nausea, and increased blood pressure or blood sugar levels.
When corticosteroids fail to relieve the pain caused by Ramsay Hunt syndrome, prescription pain relievers may be required.
A doctor can prescribe various pain medications, including but not limited to Vicodin, OxyContin, and codeine. For mild pain, over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen may be used first. Pain may also be treated with other medications such as gabapentin or carbamazepine.
Prescription opioid pain relievers can be highly addictive and should be used cautiously.
NOTE: If you've had chickenpox and begin to experience any of the symptoms of Ramsay Hunt syndrome, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Home Remedies for Ramsay Hunt Syndrome
Many people find that using home remedies relieves the pain of Ramsay Hunt syndrome. In addition, certain lifestyle changes and natural and home remedies can help prevent flare-ups or reoccurring episodes of the condition. Here are a few of the best Ramsay Hunt Syndrome home remedies.
Using a cool, wet compress
A cool, wet compress can be applied to painful areas to help relieve Ramsay Hunt syndrome pain.
Using over-the-counter pain medications
Wearing an eye patch
Some people with Ramsay Hunt syndrome have weak facial muscles that make closing one of their eyes difficult. This can expose the cornea, which protects the eye, to outside dirt, and abrasions. Wearing an eye patch at night can protect the eye from damage, and eye drops can keep the eye properly moisturized throughout the day.
How to Prevent Ramsay Hunt Syndrome?
If a person loses facial movement, develops a rash on the face, or experiences facial weakness, they should contact a healthcare provider immediately.
Since there is no known way to prevent Ramsay Hunt syndrome, treating it with medication as soon as symptoms appear can help with recovery.
A List of Treatment Options for Ramsay Hunt Syndome
|A List of Medication||Examples||A Warning Word|
Zovirax, Famvir, and Valtrex
Antiviral medications have been linked to side effects such as headaches and dizziness.
They have been linked to drowsiness and unsteadiness as side effects
Short-term corticosteroid use can cause headaches, nausea, and an increase in blood pressure or blood sugar levels.
Ibuprofen, Vicodin, OxyContin, and codeine
Prescription opioid pain relievers can be highly addictive and should be used with caution.
This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2022 Dr apt MT Ghozali