Shingles: Symptoms and effects of virus
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According to the Mayo Clinic, Ramsay Hunt syndrome occurs when a shingles outbreak affects the facial nerve near one of your ears. On top of the shingles rash this can develop into facial paralysis, and hearing loss in the affected ear. Unless dealt with “promptly” it can cause permanent facial muscle weakness and deafness.
One sign of Ramsay Hunt syndrome is vertigo – the sensation that you or your surroundings are spinning or moving.
It might be mild and barely noticeable, but it could be so severe that you struggle to keep your balance and carry out normal activities.
If you notice this and other symptoms of shingles it is advised you seek medical help.
There are two main signs and symptoms of Ramsay Hunt syndrome.
These include a painful red rash with fluid-filled blisters on, in and around one ear.
And facial weakness or paralysis on the same side as the affected ear.
The Mayo Clinic says: “Usually, the rash and the facial paralysis occur at the same time.
“Sometimes one can happen before the other. Other times, the rash never occurs.”
Other symptoms of the syndrome include:
- Ear pain
- Hearing loss
- Ringing in your ears (tinnitus)
- Difficulty closing one eye
- A sensation of spinning or moving (vertigo)
- A change in taste perception or loss of taste
- Dry mouth and eyes.
The syndrome develops in people who have previously had chickenpox.
“Ramsay Hunt syndrome can occur in anyone who has had chickenpox,” the Mayo Clinic explains.
“It’s more common in older adults, typically affecting people older than 60.
“Ramsay Hunt syndrome is rare in children.”
The clinic adds: “Ramsay Hunt syndrome isn’t contagious.
“However, reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus can cause chickenpox in people who haven’t previously had chickenpox or been vaccinated for it.
“The infection can be serious for people who have immune system problems.”
The best way to ensure you don’t develop shingles or Ramsay Hunt syndrome is to have been vaccinated against chickenpox as a child or have a shingles vaccine as an adult.
If you have shingles it is advised you avoid the following vulnerable people until the rash blisters scab over:
- Anyone who’s never had chickenpox or who’s never had the chickenpox vaccine
- Anyone who has a weak immune system
- Pregnant women.
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