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Patient with facial paralysis prior to treatment

Ramsay Hunt syndrome may be present if you experience vertigo and hearing difficulties. NORD estimates that 5 of every 100,000 people in the United States develop Ramsay Hunt syndrome yearly.

What is Ramsay Hunt Syndrome?

Ramsay Hunt syndrome is distinguished by a severe rash on the mouth, throat, face or ears. This condition leads to swelling and irritation of the nerve. However, doctors frequently diagnose “herpes zostic oticus” when the rash only affects the ear and “Ramsay Hunt syndrome” when the rash appears with facial paralysis.

Some symptoms include:

  • Disorientation; a feeling that the world is spinning (vertigo)
  • Severe ear discomfort
  • A painful rash on the tongue, the roof of the mouth, the outer (pinna) and external ear canal and ear lobe on the side of the damaged nerve
  • Loss of hearing on one side
  • Facial weakness on one side that makes it difficult to close one eye, chew (food spills out of the weaker corner of the mouth), show facial emotion, make facial motions and produce facial droop and paralysis on that side of the face

What Causes Ramsay Hunt Syndrome?

The varicella-zoster virus (VZV), which also causes shingles in adults and chickenpox in kids, causes Ramsay Hunt Syndrome. It happens when VZV infects a brain neuron.

When someone contracts the VZV virus for the first time, they immediately develop chickenpox. From this point on, the virus remains in the body and retreats into the spinal ganglia (the nerve cell bodies positioned along the spinal cord). Until it is activated again, it can “sleep” there inactively. A weak immune response to the virus may cause a reactivation. A fluctuating or compromised immune system can be brought on by aging or immune system suppression, such as that brought on by HIV. However, exposure to X-rays, UV rays or toxic compounds can also trigger the reaction.

How Does Ramsay Hunt Syndrome Cause Hearing Loss?

According to NORD, another typical symptom of Ramsay Hunt syndrome is tinnitus or ringing in the ears. Some people may also experience sensorineural hearing loss caused by the auditory nerve’s inability to send vibrations to the brain. Adults are the primary victims of the illness, but it is occasionally seen in children.

Treatments for Ramsay Hunt Syndrome

Ramsay Hunt syndrome can result in irreversible hearing loss if neglected. Potent anti-inflammatory medications known as steroids (like prednisone) and antiviral drugs are used as treatments (such as Zovirax, acyclovir or Famvir). Strong painkillers may also be required if the discomfort persists despite taking steroids.

Furthermore, it is advised to use an eye patch if you have facial weakness to prevent corneal abrasion and other eye damage if your eye does not completely close. Some people use nighttime eye lubricants and daytime artificial tears to keep their eyes from drying.

In patients who have already experienced chicken pox, the vaccine Zostavax is beneficial in avoiding the reactivation of the virus. Meanwhile, the varicella vaccine can lower the risk of obtaining the chicken pox virus in kids who have not yet experienced it.

Scheduling an Appointment for Ramsay Hunt Syndrome Treatment

As with many diseases, early intervention is critical. When Ramsay Hunt syndrome patients start receiving treatment as soon as possible after their symptoms show, their prognosis improves. If you have facial weakness, loss of facial mobility or a rash, get in touch with us at New York Facial Paralysis today.

Posted on behalf of New York Facial Paralysis

Grand Park Building, 110 East 40 Street, Suite 501
New York, NY 10016

Phone: (212) 434-4050

FAX: (212) 434-4059


Monday - Friday: 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM



New York Facial Paralysis

At Manhattan Eye, Ear, and Throat Hospital

Grand Park Building, 110 East 40 Street, Suite 501
New York, NY 10016

(212) 434-4050 (212) 371-3223 (FACE)

Opening Times: Monday - Friday: 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM

If you are interested in discussing your case with the NYFP specialists: