The disease varicella, commonly known as chickenpox, occurs all over the world. It is a highly contagious airborne disease and is usually identified by characteristic itchy blisters that appear on the body. Other symptoms include fever, headaches and tiredness.
Complications from chickenpox can occur, including inflammation of the brain, pneumonia and skin infection. However, most people will recover from chickenpox in around a week. Although chickenpox itself is usually harmless, it can lead to conditions that may result in facial paralysis.
Are You at Risk of Developing Shingles?
Once infected, the chickenpox virus can remain in a dormant state within the body for years. The virus can randomly activate, leading to a condition known as shingles. It is not fully understood how varicella remains inactive in human nerve cells, or what causes it to re-emerge, but risk factors include advancing age and a compromised immune system.
A shingles rash is quite different to the blisters found in chickenpox and will usually present as a wide, blistered stripe on the body or face. Other symptoms include pain in the area and a tingling sensation. Occasionally sufferers will experience fatigue and headaches. If a shingles rash appears in the ear, it can lead to a condition called Ramsey Hunt Syndrome. Ramsey Hunt Syndrome can be identified by paralysis or weakness on the affected side of the face, hearing loss or tinnitus, vertigo and changes in your sense of taste.
Prevention and Cure for Ramsey Hunt Syndrome
Ramsey Hunt Syndrome is painful and distressing. At New York Facial Paralysis, we recommend prevention as the best line of defense against this condition. Studies into immunization programs against chickenpox show that instances of the illness are reduced by up to 90%. Vaccination against shingles limits the chance of symptoms appearing by 50-90% and can reduce the severity of an outbreak.
If Ramsey Hunt Syndrome does develop, early intervention is critical. Antiviral drugs and anti-inflammatory steroids will reduce the risk and severity of hearing loss and facial paralysis. Weakness to the muscles around the eyes will require additional measures, such as eye patches or moistening drops.
If you or a family member is experiencing signs of Ramsey Hunt Syndrome, contact New York Facial Paralysis today.