What is Ramsay Hunt Syndrome?
The Ramsay Hunt syndrome is a medical condition that is primarily caused by a viral agent, herpes zoster. The said medical ailment is also simply referred as Hunt’s syndrome and primarily results to the paralysis of a person’s facial muscles on a specific side where the infection has accumulated.
The condition is believed to be a rare complication of varicella zoster viral infection. The condition is also considered to be a cause of most cases of Bell palsy. In the United States, the occurrence of Ramsay Hunt Syndrome is unknown or not fully supported but is noted to affect 16% of cases of facial palsies to the young children and about 18% in the adults. There is no mortality rate for such condition for it is a self-limiting disease.
The diagnosis of the problem is done through a thorough medical history assessment and physical examination. Taking of a swab sample from the blister in the patient’s ear is a form of diagnostic exam for Ramsay Hunt syndrome. Blood test in identifying the varicella zoster virus is done.
There are three types of Ramsay Hunt Syndrome and they were specifically described by an American neurologist named James Ramsay Hunt in the year 1921. Here are the three types of Ramsay Hunt syndrome:
Ramsay Hunt syndrome type I
This condition is characterized by inclusion of epileptic episodes, tremors, and cognitive impairment. The tremors are observed as intention tremor that affects an extremity, such as the upper limb. The patient shall also experience an unsteady gait and a reduced muscular coordination.
Ramsay Hunt syndrome type II
This is the herpes zoster oticus Hunt syndrome. The reactivation of the previous herpes zoster virus is the common cause of the condition. The disease process involves weakness of the facial nerve along with the burst of erythematous rashes found in the ears, tongue and hard palate.
Ramsay Hunt syndrome type III
This type of Ramsay Hunt syndrome is a less common condition that is induced by a neuropathy involving the palms. This condition is also referred as Hunt’s disease or the Artisan’s palsy.
The condition, Ramsay Hunt syndrome is characterized by these significant signs; painful red rash that are filled with blisters or called vesicles and another is the facial paralysis or weakness on the affected side. But in general, these are the following symptoms of Ramsay Hunt syndrome:
- Rashes that are described as painful by the affected. The areas that the rashes burst out are the eardrum, ear canal, earlobes, and palates.
- One-sided hearing loss
- One-sided weakness on the side of the face
- Difficulty of chewing food, doing facial expressions, and closing of the affected eye
- Paralysis of the affected side of the face is expected
- Facial drooping or eyelid drooping is observed
The primary cause of the condition is the viral agent varicella zoster. This viral agent primarily causes chicken pox and shingles. As there has been a previous exposure to the virus, there is a possibility that the person affected shall acquire the syndrome leading to the affectation of the facial nerve.
Those at risk for this condition are the people who have just acquired chickenpox or a varicella infection. The reactivation of the viral agent is most likely. It is best that a person who is also exposed to people with varicella infection should get away from them. The newborns and pregnant women are at risk for acquiring the infection easily. We must protect them by keeping them from harm’s way.
The treatment for Ramsay Hunt syndrome is aimed to alleviate the symptoms of the disease. As the condition is self-limiting, we can aim to treat the complaints of the client. Here are the following medications provided for clients:
- Steroids or corticosteroids such as prednisone. This drug is usually prescribed to patients to take for at least a week.
- Antiviral drugs such as acyclovir are provided for seven to ten days.
- Analgesics are also prescribed to clients when pain is intolerable.
- Antivertigo drugs are provided for clients who experience or complain for vertigo.
- Home remedies include those of: keeping the affected area far from infection by cleaning it regularly. Application of cool compresses on the area affected can ease the pain. Keep the eyes moist so to avoid irritation.
The prognosis of the client entirely depends on the severity of the client’s condition. As the patient’s immune system is compromised from the start of the disease, the condition shall then present for a depleted chance of regaining the normal functioning of the affect side of the face. As there is a grave damage to the facial nerve, the result would be in congruence to the affectation. The chance of attaining recovery is high as this makes about 70% rate of full recovery. But once treatment for Ramsay Hunt Syndrome has been delayed, the chances of recovery would drop down.
The condition presents some complications no matter what the state of the client is. But complications are at high risk when he or she has a low immune system. The following are the possible complications of Ramsay Hunt syndrome:
- Facial permanent disfigurement
- Alteration in the sense of taste
- Infections to the eye can provide damage/ permanent. The cornea of the eye may be damaged that can cause for a blurred vision.
- Facial spasms
Ramsay Hunt Syndrome Pictures
Photos, Images and Pictures of Ramsay Hunt Syndrome…
source: Mayo Foundation
Ramsay Hunt Syndrome Images