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NINDS Disorders is an index of neurological conditions provided by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. This valuable tool offers detailed descriptions, facts on treatment and prognosis, and patient organization contact information for over 500 identified neurological disorders.

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Herpes Zoster Oticus

Herpes zoster oticus, also called Ramsay Hunt Syndrome or Ramsay Hunt Syndrome type II, is a common complication of shingles. Shingles is an infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is the virus that causes chickenpox. Shingles occurs in people who have had chickenpox and represents a reactivation of the dormant varicella-zoster virus. Herpes zoster oticus, which is caused by the spread of the varicella-zoster virus to facial nerves, is characterized by intense ear pain, a rash around the ear, mouth, face, neck, and scalp, and paralysis of facial nerves. Other symptoms may include hearing loss, vertigo (abnormal sensation of movement), and tinnitus (abnormal sounds). Taste loss in the tongue and dry mouth and eyes may also occur.

Treatment

Some cases of herpes zoster oticus do not require treatment. When treatment is needed, medications such as antiviral drugs or corticosteroids may be prescribed. Vertigo may be treated with the drug diazepam

Prognosis

Generally, the prognosis of herpes zoster oticus is good. However, in some cases, hearing loss may be permanent. Vertigo may last for days or weeks. Facial paralysis may be temporary or permanent.

Research

The NINDS supports research on shingles and shingles-related conditions. Current studies focus on the relationship between the persistence of neurotropic viruses and development of neurological diseases including herpes simplex and varicella-zoster viruses.

View a list of studies currently seeking patients.

View more studies on this condition.

Organizations

National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD)

Federation of voluntary health organizations dedicated to helping people with rare "orphan" diseases and assisting the organizations that serve them. Committed to the identification, treatment, and cure of rare disorders through programs of education, advocacy, research, and service.

55 Kenosia Avenue
Danbury, CT 06810
Tel: 203-744-0100 Voice Mail 800-999-NORD (6673)
Fax: 203-798-2291

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)

National Institutes of Health, DHHS
31 Center Drive, MSC 2320
Bethesda, MD 20892-2320
Tel: 301-496-7243/800-241-1044 800-241-1055 (TTD/TTY)

Office of Rare Diseases

National Institutes of Health, DHHS
6100 Executive Blvd., 3B01, MSC 7518
Bethesda, MD 20892-7518
Tel: 301-402-4336

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