Justin Bieber gave a quick update on his illness on Instagram. What exactly is Ramsay Hunt Syndrome?

Pop star Justin Bieber (28) made his illness with Ramsay Hunt syndrome public over the weekend. In a nearly three-minute Instagram video, the singer demonstrated how the disease is paralyzing one half of his face. Now he has given a short update, also on Instagram: Every day he feels better and he now trusts in his faith. “I know this storm will pass, Jesus is with me,” Bieber said. But what exactly is behind the rare viral disease?

Ramsay Hunt Syndrome is complication of shingles

“As you can see, that eye can’t blink,” Justin Bieber explains on Instagram, his right eye staring at the camera while his left one squinting shut. The 28-year-old cannot move his right nostril or corner of his mouth either. Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, which Bieber suffers from, is a rare condition that affects nerves in the ear and face. It is triggered by one of over 200 herpes viruses. It is named after the American neurologist Ramsay Hunt, who first described the disease in 1907.

Ramsay Hunt syndrome occurs as a rare complication of shingles, the so-called “herpes zoster”. The disease can affect anyone who has had chickenpox. After an initial infection, the “varicella zoster virus” is dormant in the body. This is reactivated by shingles and multiplies in the nerve cells. The virus infects the neurons of the geniculate ganglion, a small collection of nerve fibers. The “nervus facialis”, the facial nerve, also belongs to these. The cause is often stress or an immune deficiency. In addition to facial paralysis, this can cause hearing loss, tinnitus or earache, and blisters can form in the ear canal. Dizziness, a numb tongue, and loss of taste are other symptoms.

The syndrome is not contagious. However, sufferers should stay away from people who have never had chickenpox.

Healing process is different

Justin Bieber is now doing facial exercises ‘to make my face normal again’. It is also important that treatment is started as early as possible. In the German guidelines for treatment, a combination therapy with virus-inhibiting drugs and cortisone preparations is used. If left untreated, hearing can be permanently impaired.

Bieber does not know exactly how long the healing process will take. In many patients, symptoms usually resolve within weeks or months. In rare cases, however, some symptoms could remain permanent. But Bieber is certain: “It will be normal again.”