Because of a viral infection that has paralyzed one side of Justin Bieber’s face, he has been forced to cancel future concerts.
On Instagram, Bieber said, “As you can see, this eye isn’t blinking,” to the delight of his followers. “This side of my face is unable to grin.” I can’t move this nostril.
‘Ramsay Hunt syndrome,’ as the 28-year-old singer is known, afflicts him. The varicella-zoster virus, which is responsible for chickenpox, is to blame.
Chickenpox can lay dormant in the body for decades after a person has recovered from the illness. The dorsal root ganglion, a group of nerve cells located adjacent to the spinal cord, is where it normally hides.
When the virus is dormant, it does not cause any harm. It can reactivate in some individuals. In some cases, this might be triggered by other infections (such as COVID-19), a weaker immune system, or even stressful situations. The varicella virus can reactivate and produce disease as a result of all of these factors.
A painful rash and blisters known as shingles is the most common sign of reactivation of the virus in humans.
It’s known as Ramsay Hunt syndrome when it affects a nerve in your skull called your facial nerve, which was initially described in 1907 by a doctor named James Ramsay Hunt. If you’ve ever had chickenpox, you could be at risk for Ramsey Hunt syndrome.
How it Causes Damage
The facial canal is the tiny passageway via which the facial nerve emerges from the brain and travels to the face. The left and right sides of the face are served by one on each side of the brain. The nerve can be constricted by even the tiniest amount of inflammation in this tiny, bone-filled tunnel. It’s also difficult to treat because it’s buried deep in the skull.
There are some patients with Ramsay Hunt syndrome who suffer from tinnitus and balance issues due to the facial nerve’s proximity to the vestibulocochlear nerve that is involved in hearing.
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In most cases, the facial nerve, which supplies the muscles of facial expression, is paralyzed, making it impossible to smile or frown. Slurred speech and a change in taste have also been reported in rare cases.
On the same side as paralysis, a painful rash usually forms around the ear. Bell’s palsy is not the cause of this rash (another type of facial paralysis).
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Ramsay Hunt syndrome has been linked to an increased risk of corneal injury (where light passes through for vision). This is because blinking, which helps to lubricate the eye, is not occurring as often as it should be. The lacrimal gland can be paralyzed as well as the facial nerve. The eye’s lubricating fluid is made by this gland.
Artificial tears may be necessary for those with Ramsay Hunt syndrome. In addition, the injured eye must be taped shut while you sleep.
Antiviral medications, steroids, and opioids are commonly used in the treatment of shingles. The sooner you begin therapy, the better your chances of a full recovery. Within the first three days of experiencing symptoms, over 70% of people recover. However, the likelihood of a full recovery lowers to 50% if treatment is not initiated within this time range.
We can be confident that Bieber is receiving excellent care and that he will soon be able to return to his normal life.
What is the Ramsay Hunt syndrome?
It is the same virus that causes chickenpox and shingles that causes Ramsay Hunt syndrome. Chickenpox is a contagious disease that might recur in maturity if a person has had it as a child. Shingles can progress to Ramsay Hunt syndrome in some individuals.
Inflammation, a severe rash, facial paralysis, and other symptoms are all possible side effects of this disease. It is rare, affecting about 5 in every 100,000 individuals, but everybody who has had chickenpox is at risk.
Antivirals and steroids are used to treat it, and health experts recommend therapy within three days of the onset of symptoms. Full recovery might take weeks or even months, and in some cases the damage is irreversible.
Justin Bieber and COVID-19
COVID-19 vaccinations have not been confirmed for either of the Biebers. We were unable to locate any public statements they may have made on the topic of vaccination.
Unfortunately, we have not heard back from Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun, despite contacting him via the company website.
In December, the singer’s official Twitter account announced that all concertgoers would need to be completely immunized before attending any of the singer’s upcoming appearances. For now, it isn’t clear if that choice was made by Bieber and his team, the venue’s policy, or local legislation.
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According to CNN, the singer was diagnosed with COVID-19 in February, causing the cancellation of a Vegas engagement.
COVID-19 vaccines, shingles, and Ramsay Hunt Syndrome
Experts informed PolitiFact that although incidents of shingles or Ramsay Hunt have been documented following immunization, no causal link to the vaccines has been proven. After a COVID-19 infection, there have been reports of persons suffering shingles or Ramsay Hunts.
According to the health professionals we spoke with, there is no evidence of an increased risk of shingles or Ramsay Hunt syndrome after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
According to Dr. Anna Wald, head of the Virology Research Clinic at the University of Washington, “Shingles—of which Ramsay Hunt is one type—have been known to occur following COVID immunizations,” but they would have occurred within a few weeks of inoculation if they were deemed potentially relevant. So yet, it is unclear whether the COVID vaccine increases one’s risk of getting shingles. However, it is clear that COVID-19 increases the incidence of shingles.”
People 50 and older who had even mild instances of COVID-19 were shown to have a 15% higher risk of developing shingles than those who had not been infected, according to a study published in March. People who were hospitalized with COVID-19 had a 21% increased risk of developing this condition.
Bieber’s February illness does not appear to be related to a COVID-19 infection unless he was recently reinfected, and it is “unlikely due to immunization.”
It has been theorized that the reactivation of varicella-zoster virus after vaccination may be due to alterations in the immune system, which “may lead to weaker control of latent VZV,” says Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
According to Adalja, “Shingles is rarely recorded after vaccination, but has been reported after COVID, post-influenza, post-rabies, post-hepatitis A, and post-Japanese encephalitis immunization..” Because shingles are so widespread, it is difficult to show causation because there is a baseline rate that happens, especially as one age.
Dr. William Schaffner, a professor in the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine’s Division of Infectious Diseases, said it’s possible, but improbable, that Bieber’s illness was caused by a vaccine.
Any scientist would say, “Is it possible?” Because of the numerous curveballs that have been thrown our way by COVID and its vaccinations, practically everyone will respond “well, perhaps.” Is it likely, in my opinion? In his opinion, “no” is the correct answer to such a question.
Vaccine surveillance systems in the United States are among the best in the world, according to Schaffner.
“There are no statistics from the surveillance systems that would indicate that vaccines are out there causing shingles,” Schaffner added. Not regarding Ramsay Hunt, but definitely about shingles, this question has been posted. Because there has been nothing like that out of these surveillance technologies.
There have been no “odd or unexpected patterns of Ramsay Hunt syndrome following immunization” that indicate that the COVID-19 vaccines are causing or contributing to this disorder, says Curtis Gill, a representative for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.