Herpes Zoster Oticus


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Herpes Zoster Oticus

Ear Herpes, or Herpes of the Ear

There is a viral infection that affects the ear known as Herpes Zoster Oticus. It attacks the inner ear, middle ear, and the external ear. Whenever this viral infection associates itself with facial paralysis it then becomes known as 'Ramsay Hunt Syndrome'.

It is basically a complication of shingles and is quite common. The same virus which produces chicken pox, known as the 'varicella-zoster' virus, also causes shingles. The people who develop shingles are those who had chicken pox as children and it has been re-activated. This viral infection appears whenever the varicella-zoster virus spreads to the facial nerves.

The symptoms are severe pain in the ear combined with rashes around the face, scalp, mouth, neck, and ear. This is accompanied by facial nerve paralysis. There could be hearing loss, Tinnitus (abnormal sounds), and Vertigo (an abnormal movement sensation). You may also experience dry mouth and loss of taste.

There are some cases that will not require any treatment. When treatment is needed there are anti-viral drugs and medications like corticosteroids that can be prescribed. Diazepam is commonly given for Vertigo. The prognosis for this viral infection is usually good although there are a few cases where the hearing loss can be permanent. The same goes for the facial paralysis, it can temporary or permanent.

If you should experience any symptoms such as facial paralysis or shingles rashes on your face, you should call your doctor immediately. Early detection and treatment helps to prevent any long-term complications.

This viral infection most commonly affects people who are age 60 or above. Ramsay Hunt Syndrome rarely affects children and is not contagious. You can still pass chicken pox to people you are in close contact with. If they have not been vaccinated or ever had it before they are susceptible.

A good plan of action before visiting your physician is to create a list of your symptoms. Write down if you ever had chicken pox before and at what age. List any previous disorders like loss of taste or hearing. Let the doctor know if you are pregnant or currently being treated for any chronic health conditions. Full and fast disclosure of any relevant information will make your visit quicker and smoother.

Doctors will be able to identify if it is Herpes Zoster Oticus with a simple exam. They can easily read the distinct symptoms as well as your medical history. They sometimes confirm their diagnosis by testing a sample of fluid from a blister.

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