What is the auditory system involvement in herpes zoster (shingles)?

Updated: Jan 25, 2019
  • Author: Camila K Janniger, MD; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
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Answer

Herpes zoster oticus (also known as Ramsay Hunt syndrome, geniculate neuralgia, or herpes zoster auricularis) is caused by VZV reactivation involving the facial and auditory nerves. This syndrome may go unnoticed and be difficult to diagnose, especially in elderly patients.

Vesicular eruptions may manifest on the pinna, tragus, or tympanic membrane or in the auditory canal, as well as anywhere in the facial nerve distribution. The patient may experience hearing impairment, nystagmus, vertigo, or a facial nerve palsy mimicking Bell palsy. [18] Patients may lose taste sensation in the anterior two thirds of the tongue. [18]


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