Justin Bieber performs at a concert.
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  • Justin Bieber announced he will cancel the rest of his tour to prioritize his health.
  • The singer had paused his tour earlier this summer after being diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt syndrome.
  • The syndrome can result in facial paralysis, painful rash and facial weakness.

Justin Bieber announced Tuesday that he will be canceling his remaining tour dates in order to prioritize his health. 

Bieber was diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt syndrome in June after experiencing facial paralysis.  

After that diagnosis the singer postponed multiple shows on the North American leg of his tour, stating that he was physically unable to perform. Bieber returned from his hiatus and performed six live shows. However yesterday he announced that he decided to cancel the rest of the tour to rest and recover. 

“After getting off stage, the exhaustion overtook me and I realized that I need to make my health the priority right now,” Bieber wrote in an Instagram story. 

What is Ramsay Hunt syndrome? 

Ramsay Hunt syndrome is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. The virus stays in your body for years and can be reactivated and cause shingles.

“Most patients will not develop RHS or shingles, however, if it is reactivated, the facial nerve may become inflamed and irritated and new symptoms will appear,” says Dr. Amit Kochhar, an otolaryngologist and director of the Facial Nerve Disorders Program at Pacific Neuroscience Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center. 

The two main signs of Ramsay Hunt syndrome are a painful rash with blisters on, in or around one ear and facial weakness or paralysis on the same side as the affected ear. 

Some people may also experience ear pain, hearing loss, tinnitus, vertigo, dry mouth and eyes, and a change in taste. 

“There is a strong element of disfigurement due to the paralysis since our faces are so important to our identities – both how others perceive us and how we perceive ourselves,” says Dr. Jon-Paul Pepper, a surgeon and associate professor of otolaryngology at Stanford Medicine.

The paralysis can cause issues with daily functioning as it can be difficult to blink, smile, and close the affected eye. 

“The physical changes that occur with unilateral facial paralysis and how it can affect one’s speech with slurring are potentially distressing to anyone,” Dr. Adeel Popalzai, medical director of neurology at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center, said.

How Ramsay Hunt syndrome is treated

According to Kochhar, anyone who experiences facial paralysis from Ramsay Hunt syndrome should seek treatment immediately — ideally, within 72 hours. 

Steroids and antiviral treatments are typically prescribed to patients diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt syndrome, according to Pepper.

Topical lotions and creams can help alleviate pain and rashes and anti-nausea medications can help those experiencing nausea from dizziness. 

In rare instances, the symptoms may be severe and patients may need to be hospitalized, says Kochhar.

“Typically, if treated and addressed early, chances of improvement are more likely. That being said, some symptoms can persist even despite treatment,” Popalzai said.

What is recovery from Ramsay Hunt syndrome like?

At first, people with Ramsay Hunt syndrome are unable to move the paralyzed part of their face — they can’t blink, smile or close their eyes, says Kochhar.

According to Kochhar, it takes most people one to two months to start being able to move their face again. 

“The recovery process in RHS is typically slow with incremental improvement over the course of weeks to months,” Kochhar said.

If it takes longer than three months, patients may be dealing with a type of long-term nerve damage called synkinesis. 

“Every case is different. Some cases of RHS may be get better within 4 weeks. Others can take up to six months for the face to start moving again,” Kochhar said. 

The bottom line:

Justin Bieber announced Tuesday that he will be canceling his remaining tour dates in order to prioritize his health after being diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt syndrome this summer. Ramsay Hunt syndrome is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox — it can live in the body for years and be reactivated, causing shingles. If the shingles outbreak occurs near the facial nerves, it can lead to facial paralysis. 

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