Justin Bieber gave an optimistic health update to fans on Monday after revealing last week that he was diagnosed with a rare syndrome that caused partial paralysis to his face.
The 28-year-old Canadian singer said in a video posted to Instagram on Friday that the reason for postponing several shows of his 2022 “Justice World Tour” is because he was recently diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt Syndrome (RHS).
“Wanted to share a little bit of how I’ve been feeling,” Bieber wrote. “Each day has gotten better and through all of the discomfort, I have found comfort in the one who designed me and knows me.”
“I’m reminded He knows all of me,” Bieber continued. “He knows the darkest parts of me that I want no one to know about and He constantly welcomes me into His loving arms. This perspective has given me peace during this horrific storm that I’m facing.”
“I know this storm will pass but in the meantime, Jesus is with me,” he added.
In a video Bieber uploaded to Instagram over the weekend, the multi-Grammy winner revealed he struggled with facial movements on the right side of his face.
“As you can see, this eye is not blinking,” Bieber said, pointing to his inability to successfully close his right eyelid. “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.”
Derick Wade, a consultant in neurological rehabilitation and visiting professor at Oxford Brookes University in the UK, told Sky News that recovery time can vary significantly.
“If a nerve is damaged in this way, it can recover in some people very quickly, in a few days or a few weeks, and in other people can take several months. So it’s a very unpredictable affair,” Wade said.
Bieber explained that he’s unsure about the estimated timeline for his recovery, but he is hopeful about making a full recovery through rest and therapy.
According to the Mayo Clinic, RHS is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. After the disease clears up, the virus remains in a person’s nerves and may reactivate years later.
Unlike chickenpox, RHS isn’t contagious and is more common in older people, typically in those above 60. For most people, the symptoms are temporary, though they can become permanent.
The U.S. organization stated that the syndrome occurs “when a shingles outbreak affects the facial nerve near one of your ears. In addition to the painful shingles rash, RHS can cause facial paralysis and hearing loss in the affected ear.”
Prompt medical attention to the syndrome reduces “the risk of complications, which can include permanent facial muscle weakness and deafness,” according to the clinic. The inability of patients to close one eyelid can also cause eye pain and blurred vision.
In March, the singer’s wife, Hailey Baldwin Bieber, was hospitalized due to a small blood clot in her brain. She later confirmed suffering from a mini-stroke and she had to undergo surgery to close a hole in her heart.
Hong Kong Study Suggests Possible Link Between RHS and COVID-19 Vaccine
After news broke of Bieber’s RHS diagnosis, social media has been flocked with posts linking the singer’s diagnosis to the COVID-19 vaccine, claiming that he had developed the disorder because of it. However, the singer has never given an official confirmation whether he is vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Postgraduate Medical Journal has previously released an article under the adverse drug reaction section on the website, pointing out a case in Hong Kong when a 37-year-old healthy man developed RHS two days after getting his first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
According to the report, researchers said the patient’s symptoms apparently started with a fever and pain in the right ear. He then developed vesicles in his right ear and canal, which later developed into tinnitus and led to a loss of hearing. He also complained of facial palsy, numbness in the tongue, and dysgeusia.
Researchers concluded that RHS “is rare for patients under 60 years old with no previous history” of herpes zoster (HZ) or shingles.
“Therefore, COVID-19 vaccination was likely to be the stress-causing reactivation of VZV [Varicella Zoster Virus],” it said. VZV causes chickenpox, which commonly affects children and young adults.
“What we have described is rare,” researchers stressed.
The man in Hong Kong was the first reported case of RHS shortly after the COVID-19 vaccination. The case has been debunked by medical officials who say there is no evidence of such a link.
Facial Palsy UK, a charity dedicated to supporting individuals affected by facial paralysis, said in a statement obtained by Euro News that there is “no strong evidence” that the COVID-19 vaccine is linked to RHS as it is caused when a virus attacks the nerves present in the inner ear.
“Currently there is no strong evidence that the numbers of reported cases of Bell’s palsy or [RHS] are higher than would be expected in the general population,” the charity said. “One of the difficulties is that side effects are identified based on reporting, so some things that are reported could be associations rather than causative.”
The organization’s findings have been opposed by other researchers, who discovered the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine could be associated with a small increase in the risk of Bell’s palsy, particularly among individuals previously diagnosed with the type of facial paralysis.
“Our findings suggest an overall increased risk of Bell’s palsy after CoronaVac vaccination,” according to a Lancet study published in August 2021. The medical journal added that “additional studies are needed in other regions to confirm our findings.”