June 17, 2022

Audiology in the Headlines

Pop-music artist, Justin Bieber, has been in the media headlines recently for his viral video explaining his recent diagnosis with Ramsay Hunt Syndrome (RHS), and demonstrating his symptoms.

Ramsay Hunt Syndrome (RHS) occurs when the varicella-zoster virus, which is responsible for the chicken pox, re-emerges within the body. When individuals recover from the chicken pox, the virus lays dormant in the body. If the virus re-emerges, it is classified as shingles.

RHS occurs when a shingles occurs along the nerves in the ear, which include the facial nerve and the auditory nerve. A painful rash is typically present in the ear canal or around the affected ear.  When the facial nerve is affected, there is some degree of facial weakness or paralysis. When the auditory nerve is affected, the result can be a varying degree of hearing loss, tinnitus, and vertigo.

The severity of the syndrome can vary between individuals and not all symptoms may manifest in everyone. When treated within 72 hours, there is a good chance of recovery. If treatment is not started within that window, there is a high chance of having permanent hearing loss and facial weakness.

Justin Bieber shares a selfie demonstrating his facial paralysis

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