Justin Bieber, the pop star, recently announced that he was forced to push off shows on the Justice World Tour since he’s battling Ramsay Hunt syndrome and the virus has left one side of his face paralyzed. 

Also known as herpes zoster oticus, this occurs when a shingles outbreak affects a nerve near one of the ears. Apart from a painful shingles rash, the Ramsay Hunt syndrome can lead to facial paralysis as well as hearing loss in the affected ear. 

The Ramsay Hunt syndrome is caused by the same virus which causes chickenpox, and after the chickenpox clears up, the virus can still remain in the system and get activated years later, at which time the facial nerves might get affected. 

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Complications include facial muscle weakness and deafness, but prompt treatment can reduce these risks. 

The two giveaway symptoms of the Ramsay Hunt syndrome are a painful red rash, along with fluid-filled blisters in or around an ear. There’ll also be facial weakness or paralysis on the same side as the affected ear. 

Other symptoms likely to be experienced by those suffering the Ramsay Hunt 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, and dry mouth and eyes. 

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This condition is more common in older people, generally affecting those above 60. Some of the other complications that might arise out of the Ramsay Hunt syndrome include eye damage and postherpetic neuralgia. 

Eye damage usually occurs when facial paralysis makes it difficult for one to close the eyelid. Thus, the cornea protecting the eye can get damaged. This leads to blurred vision and pain in the eyes. 

Postherpetic neuralgia is a painful condition which occurs when nerve fibres are damaged by a shingles infection. These fibres send confused and exaggerated messages, which can result in pain lasting long after the symptoms and signs of the Ramsay Hunt syndrome have faded. 

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It is advisable to call a doctor immediately, if any of the symptoms begin appearing, since treatment started within three days of detection, goes a long way in preventing long-term complications.