Singer Justin Bieber dropped a video that is far unlike anything his fans had ever seen before. Bieber shared with his 240 million Instagram followers that he is recovering from Ramsay Hunt syndrome. In the video, his face showed visible paralysis on one side, most apparent in his mouth and eye.
Bieber says his condition is a result of a recent virus which impacted a nerve in his ear. The megastar also said he is currently working on facial exercises and expects to make a full recovery.
The National Organization of Rare Diseases maintains stats on Ramsay Hunt in its database. Only five out of 100,000 people develop this condition each year. The NORD states the virus can remain dormant for decades in someone who had chickenpox, and for unknown reasons it reactivates. Rarer than shingles, the condition progresses to Ramsay Hunt syndrome which impacts the facial nerves.
As for his condition, Ramsay Hunt syndrome is caused by the varicella zoster virus. The same virus that causes chickenpox and shingles in adults. According to the Mayo Clinic, cases like Bieber’s occur when a shingles outbreak affects the facial nerve near one of the ears. In addition to the painful shingles rash, Ramsay Hunt syndrome can cause facial paralysis and hearing loss in the affected ear.
Bieber’s case appears to present in a classic form. He is seen struggling to blink and can only manage a half smile. If diagnosed and treated within three days of onset, doctors say patients have the best chance of making a complete recovery.
The 28 year old, Grammy award-winning singer wrote that the condition was making it hard to eat. In his 3-minute video, he points out the paralysis in his right eye, nose and mouth. Bieber was forced to cancel his upcoming shows, promising to reschedule once he is back in full form.
The syndrome is most common in people over the age of 60.