Ramsay Hunt Syndrome
Ramsay Hunt syndrome is a complication that results from the spread of the varicella-zoster virus to the facial nerves. Characteristics of the syndrome include intense ear pain; a rash around the ear, mouth, face, neck, and scalp; and paralysis of facial nerves. Other symptoms may include hearing loss, vertigo, and taste loss in the tongue. When treatment is needed, medications such as antiviral drugs or corticosteroids may be prescribed.
Ramsay Hunt syndrome, also called herpes zoster oticus or Ramsay Hunt syndrome type II, is a common complication of shingles. Shingles is an infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is the virus that causes chickenpox. Shingles occurs in people who have had chickenpox and represents a reactivation of the dormant varicella-zoster virus.
Ramsay Hunt syndrome should not be confused with what was formerly known as Ramsay Hunt syndrome I, a collection of rare, degenerative, neurological disorders characterized by epilepsy, cognitive impairment, myoclonus, and progressive ataxia. That condition is now referred to as dyssynergia cerebellaris myoclonica.
Ramsay Hunt syndrome, which is caused by the spread of the varicella-zoster virus to facial nerves, is characterized by:
- Intense ear pain
- A rash around the ear, mouth, face, neck, and scalp
- Paralysis of facial nerves.
Other symptoms syndrome may include:
- Vertigo (abnormal sensation of movement)
- Hearing loss
- Tinnitus (abnormal sounds)
- Taste loss in the tongue
- Dry mouth and eyes.
Some cases of Ramsay Hunt syndrome do not require treatment. When treatment is needed, medications such as antiviral drugs or corticosteroids may be prescribed. Vertigo may be treated with the drug diazepam.