Or in the singer’s case, the varicella zoster virus chose to strike the nerves on the right side of his face. There are five branches of nerves on each side of the face and each branch is responsible for animating a different part: The forehead, around the eye, mid face, mouth and neck.
“Facial palsy can affect all five or any of the nerve branches, depending on how severe the nerve injury is,” said Dr Ng. “When that happens, the signals from the brain do not get transmitted to the facial muscles and movements are disrupted.”
OTHER CAUSES THAT CAN PARALYSE YOUR FACE
The virus that causes Ramsey Hunt syndrome isn’t the only one that can lead to facial paralysis. There are others such as the herpes simplex virus (it causes cold sores and genital herpes) and even the influenza virus. “We do see patients who have facial palsy after having a flu and they would have one or more affected branches of the facial nerves,” said Dr Ng.
Not every case of facial palsy can be traced to a known virus though. In such instances, doctors diagnose the unexplained facial muscle weakness as Bell’s palsy. “We don’t have any local data. In general, one in 65 people would have Bell’s palsy in their lifetime at least once. We see a number of such cases every week,” said Dr Ng.