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Earlier this year, Justin Bieber abruptly canceled a string of shows on his Justice World Tour, causing fans to speculate and worry about his health, with media reporting that the Baby the singer was battling a “non-COVID-related illness”. The 28-year-old simply took to his Instagram story to share that his sickness was getting worse. Thanks to doctors’ orders, he was forced to postpone the show.

However, a few days later, he took to his Instagram once again to reveal the extent of his sickness. He shared that he was experiencing facial paralysis as a result of a condition called Ramsay Hunt syndrome.

“Obviously, as you can probably see from my face, I have this syndrome called Ramsay Hunt syndrome, and it is from this virus that attacks the nerve in my ear and my facial nerves and has caused my face to have paralysis….As you can see, this eye is not blinking. I can’t smile with this side of my face, this nostril will not move, so there is full paralysis in this side of my face.” – Justin Bieber, Instagram

Following the post, Bieber took to his Instagram Stories, asking fans to pray for him as it has “been getting progressively harder to eat, which has been extremely frustrating.”

What Is Ramsay Hunt Syndrome?

According to the Mayo Clinic, Ramsay Hunt syndrome is a condition that occurs when a shingles outbreak affects the facial nerve near one of your ears. Shingle is a viral infection, caused by the same virus (varicella-zoster) that causes chicken pox, and it can cause a painful rash. After chickenpox clears, the virus remains in your body, and years later, it may reactivate leading to shingles.

Ramsay Hunt syndrome impacts 5 out of every 100 000 people each year in the United States, and it is the second most common cause of traumatic peripheral facial paralysis. While it can occur at any age, it typically affects people over the age of 60.

Who’s at risk?

While Ramsay Hunt syndrome isn’t contagious, the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus can cause chickenpox in people who have either never had chickenpox or have not been vaccinated for it. It also doesn’t help if you have problems with your immune system.

What are the symptoms?

There are two main signs of Ramsay Hunt. One is a red and painful rash with fluid in and around one ear and, as experienced by Justin Bieber, facial weakness or paralysis on the same side as the affected ear.

Justin Bieber


Additional symptoms include:

  • Ear pain
  • Hearing loss
  • Ringing in your ears (tinnitus)
  • Difficulty closing one eye
  • A sensation of spinning or moving (vertigo)
  • A change in taste perception or loss of taste
  • Dry mouth and eyes

What complications can it cause?

These complications include eye damage, hearing loss, and facial weakness (which can become permanent), and postherpetic neuralgia. This is a condition where the shingles infection damages the nerve fibers, causing long-term pain.

Can it be treated?

Symptoms can be managed with medication, which also helps reduce the risk of long-term complications. However, if you’re interested in reducing your risk for the condition, the best thing would be by getting the chickenpox and shingles vaccines. Children are routinely vaccinated against chicken pox, and the shingles vaccine is recommended for people aged 50 or older.

Living with Ramsay Hunt

Justin Bieber’s wife recently gave an update on her husband’s condition. Speaking on Good Morning America, Hailey Bieber revealed that the singer was doing well and that he is getting better every day,

“Obviously, it was just a very scary and random situation to happen, but he’s going to be totally okay, and I’m just grateful that he’s fine.”

MAIN IMAGE CREDIT: justinbieber/instagram

Want to know more?

Another artist that’s also dealing with career-threatening issues is musician Doja Cat. Earlier this year, the Grammy winner took to Twitter to share that her vaping habits had affected her voice, leading to tonsil surgery.

Pie Mulumba

Pie Mulumba

Pie Mulumba is a beauty and wellness writer who has a passion for poetry, equality, natural hair, and skin-care. With a journalism degree from Pearson's Institute of Higher Education, and identifiable by either her large afro or colorful locks, Pie aspires to continuously provide the latest information, be it beauty or wellness, on how one can adopt a healthy lifestyle on a day-to-day basis.

The content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice. For more information on your medical condition and treatment options, speak to your healthcare professional.