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Ramsay Hunt Syndrome

Abstract

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NORD is very grateful to Daniel Kim, MD, Emergency Ultrasound Fellow, Denver Health Medical Center; Emergency Medicine Resident, University of Toronto, for assistance in the preparation of this report.

Synonyms of Ramsay Hunt Syndrome

  • RHS

Disorder Subdivisions

  • No subdivisions found.

General Discussion

Ramsay Hunt syndrome (RHS) is a rare neurological disorder characterized by paralysis of the facial nerve (facial palsy) and a rash affecting the ear or mouth. Ear abnormalities such as ringing in the ears (tinnitus) and hearing loss may also be present. Ramsay Hunt syndrome is caused by the varicella zoster virus (VZV), the same virus that causes chickenpox in children and shingles (herpes zoster) in adults. In cases of Ramsay Hunt syndrome, previously inactive (dormant) varicella-zoster virus is reactivated and spreads to affect the facial nerve.

Several different names have been used to denote this disorder in the medical literature often causing confusion. The disorder is named after James Ramsay Hunt, a physician who first described the disorder in 1907. Year agos, more than one disorder bore the designation Ramsay Hunt syndrome. Ramsay-Hunt syndrome is now used to denote the disorder described in this report. The disorder is also sometimes known as herpes zoster oticus because of the characteristic ear rash. However, some physicians use herpes zostic oticus only for the ear rash and Ramsay Hunt syndrome for the combination of ear rash and facial paralysis.

Ramsay Hunt Syndrome Resources

Please note that some of these organizations may provide information concerning certain conditions potentially associated with this disorder.

Organizations:

The information in NORD’s Rare Disease Database is for educational purposes only. It should never be used for diagnostic or treatment purposes. If you have questions regarding a medical condition, always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional. NORD’s reports provide a brief overview of rare diseases. For more specific information, we encourage you to contact your personal physician or the agencies listed as “Resources” on this report.

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