Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"How long does Ramsay Hunt syndrome last?"
My doctor diagnosed me with Ramsay Hunt syndrome and I am taking the medicine he prescribed to help it go away. How long will it last though? Will it come back after the physical symptoms have gone away?
Ramsay Hunt syndrome typically refers to a syndrome where the Herpes Zoster virus has infected the geniculate ganglion (which is the origin of the facial nerve). The syndrome then usually results in unilateral facial paralysis, alteration of the taste in the anterior 2/3 of the ipsilateral tongue, and altered sensation in the ear canal. Also, some people can experience hearing loss. The Herpes Zoster virus is the same virus that causes chicken pox, and shingles. In fact, Ramsay Hunt is basically shingles within the geniculate ganglion. In Shingles, the Zoster virus has set up shop in a nerve root within the body. The immune system then typically keeps the virus dormant, until for some reason the virus becomes active again and causes symptoms within the distribution of the nerve that the virus is infecting. To my knowledge the largest study to date looking at Ramsay Hunt was published by Murakami et al. in 1997 and they looked at 80 cases of Ramsay Hunt. They found that 75% of the time they patients had full recovery if treatment with prednisone (steroid) and acyclovir (antiviral) were started within 3 days of the onset of symptoms. It is difficult to predict how long it will take the symptoms to go away. Like shingles, Ramsay Hunt can potentially come back in the future (although uncommon) because the virus is still likely present within the nerve root. I would recommend that you discuss this with the physician who is treating your Ramsay Hunt. I wish you all the best, and I hope that this information was helpful.
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