Horner’s Syndrome: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatments

In some cases, the nerve path that runs from the brain to the facial region can get disrupted leading to this condition. It affects only one side of the face and you can notice clear symptoms in the eye region. The obvious symptoms will be the reduced size of the pupil in the affected side of the face and it will have a drooping eyelid. It is also noticed that this side of the face does not sweat normally due to this condition. It can be caused due to some other disorder of the brain and this itself is not a disease. This cannot be treated and only the symptoms can be reduced by treating the underlying conditions.

Symptoms of Horner’s Syndrome:

  • The most common symptom of this condition is the droopy eyelid and this is usually due to nerve damage that affects one particular side of the face. In particular, you will notice this symptom only in one eye and the same side of the face may display other symptoms of this condition.
  • The lower eyelid will also be slightly raised when compared to the other eye and this symptom will be obvious in most cases.
  • Apart from that, you will also notice that you will not sweat on the affected side of the face. This can be strange and the difference will be obvious when you are suffering from this condition. This should be more than enough for you to visit your doctor and get suitable treatment to avoid further complications in future.
  • When you notice the pupil in the eye which appears in the form of a black dot in the middle region, you will notice that the pupil on the affected side will be smaller in size when compared to the other eye. The difference in size will be easy to notice and you can take this as a clear sign of Horner’s syndrome.
  • In some cases, this can also lead to headaches and also cause pain in the head region. This condition can affect both adults as well as kids and you should be watchful about the symptoms when your child has any difference in the size of pupils.
  • This can also give a sunken appearance to the affected side of the eye and this will be clearly noticeable when you look at the face. When you try to open your eyes in low light conditions, the affected eye will be slow to respond when compared to the other eye.

Read More: Polycythemia Symptoms | Poison Ivy Rash Symptoms

Causes of Horner’s Syndrome:

  • When the neurons at the base of the brain gets affected, it can cause Horner syndrome. This usually happens as a result of stroke or tumor in the brain region.
  • In the same manner, diseases that damage the myelin layer can also lead to this condition in many individuals. It can also be developed due to the cavity of the spinal cord.
  • In the event of trauma to the neck region, the nerves can get affected and cause this condition.
  • Other than that, any sort of nerve damage in the spinal column and chest region can also result in this condition.
  • You will often notice that lung cancer and other forms of tumors can affect some nerves and lead to Horner syndrome.
  • Similarly, the blood vessel damage due to trauma or surgery can also cause this condition in few individuals. Any sort of accident or trauma can sometimes cause permanent damage to the nerves in the brain and the symptoms may not be visible immediately after the incident.
  • You should also be very careful about the damage to the neck as the improper functioning of the carotid artery and jugular vein in this region can cause this syndrome. Make sure that you wear protection gear whenever you are working in outdoor areas and take suitable treatment whenever you are injured in future to avoid such complications.
  • Severe cases of migraines along with recurrent headaches can also lead to Horner syndrome in many cases.
  • Even children can get affected due to birth defects or tumor in the nervous system. You should also be watchful about injuries during delivery as any shoulder or neck injury in this stage can lead to Horner syndrome at a later stage. You will be able to notice such symptoms from a young age and the pupils will begin to grow at different sizes in case the kids are affected with this problem.

Read More: Diabetic ketoacidosis Causes | Pneumothorax Causes

Diagnosis of Horner’s Syndrome:

  • The first step of diagnosis of this condition begins with physical examination of the affected area. It will be clearly visible as it usually affects only one side of the face. If your doctor notices anything suspicious about the condition, you will be referred to an eye specialist who can better assess the situation and provide suitable treatment.
  • In the next step, your eyes will be closely examined and certain eye drops will be used to notice the functioning of the pupils in a clear way. In this test, the symptoms become clear as the reaction of both the pupils will not be same when you are affected with this condition.
  • After this test yields positive results, further tests to determine the cause of this condition is done using various imaging tests. Remember that this condition can be due to some sort of nerve damage in any region of the body. When this happens in the brain region, you will be tested using MRI and CT scan to determine if stroke or other forms of brain disorders are causing this reaction in your body. Most of them will have symptoms of this condition and this test will help doctors to get clarity on the situation.
  • After this is done, you may be suggested to go for certain blood tests along with urine tests as various other conditions can trigger these symptoms in individuals. When the exact cause of the problem is determined in this manner, it becomes easy to treat the underlying condition to reduce the symptoms.
  • You will also have to undergo X ray scans as this will also help the doctors to identify the intensity of the problem in various cases. Once they are able to pin point the cause for this condition, they will be able to work on reducing the symptoms of this condition.

Read More: Pneumonia Diagnosis | Pleural Effusion Diagnosis

Prevention of Horner’s Syndrome:

There is no specific way in which you can prevent this condition as this is usually due to various other health conditions of the nervous system. In this situation, the best thing you can do is to improve your overall health condition and lead a healthy lifestyle. It is also important to note that this condition can also be caused due to trauma to the head and neck region. In this regard, you can take suitable precautionary measures to protect yourself when you are working in outdoor areas. Apart from that, you should also understand that trauma to the neck and head region during delivery can lead to such conditions in kids and you need to be careful about this aspect in future.

Read More: Agoraphobia Prevention | Phlegm Prevention

Treatment of Horner’s Syndrome:

There is no specific treatment for this condition and only symptoms can be reduced by using suitable medication. In most cases, the exact cause of this problem is determined and focus is given to treating the underlying condition so that symptoms of Horner syndrome can be reduced in future. Remember that this condition does not cause any serious problems in most cases and you can easily handle this problem with proper guidance from your doctor.

Read More: Dermatitis Treatment | Allergic Rhinitis Treatment

Complications in Horner’s Syndrome:

  • You need to be aware of some of the symptoms of Horner syndrome that can lead to serious complications in future. While most of the symptoms of this condition are mild, you need to understand that the underlying condition causing these symptoms may be life threatening in some cases.
  • For this reason, you should be careful as this condition can also cause dizziness and this can affect your ability to work in many fields. You need to be careful as this can get triggered at any time and you will lose control over your body in quick time. This can cause accidents when you are working in risky environment. Make sure that you do not work in such outdoor conditions when you are suffering from this condition. You can also consult your doctor and take the necessary medication to avoid such symptoms in future.
  • When the condition starts affecting the nerves of the eyes, it can cause vision problems. However, this is not very common and you need not worry about such complications in normal cases. You should never neglect this symptom as you will have to face severe complications in future when it is not treated at the right time.
  • It can even cause severe headache accompanied with neck pain and this can come in quick time. When this becomes frequent, you will not be able to work properly and this will cause lot of inconvenience in your everyday activities.
  • The muscles on one side of the body can become weak when you are suffering from this condition and it makes it difficult for you to control the movement. It can even affect your balance when damage is done to your nerves in the brain region.

Myths Related to Horner’s Syndrome:

Myth #1:Horner’s Syndrome is curable :

You need to understand that there is no treatment for this condition. In most cases, you will have to treat the underlying condition that is causing these symptoms and that is the only way to get relief from this problem. It does not even require any specific treatment in the first place as it does not affect your everyday living in any manner.

Myth  #2:Horner’s Syndrome affects only adults :

There is no reason to believe that this condition only affects adults as even kids can get affected with this condition by birth. In few cases, when the head or neck region is injured during delivery, it can result in such symptoms in kids. There is no way in which you can prevent this in many cases and you should only monitor the symptoms carefully at a later stage and take suitable treatment for the underlying medical condition that is triggering these symptoms.

Myth  #3:Horner’s Syndrome is fatal :

It does not cause any complications on its own and you may experience severe consequences only due to the underlying condition that is the cause of this condition in your body. There is no need to worry if you are not having any serious health conditions that is triggering these symptoms. However, when stroke or any sort of tumor is causing this condition in your body, it can be fatal due to the effects of the underlying diseases.

Myth  #4:Horner’s Syndrome leads to stroke :

There is no need to worry about such complications as this does not lead to such complicated health conditions. However, you are likely to get this condition due to stroke and not the other way round. For this reason, you should identify the underlying condition that is causing this syndrome in your body and get treated for that disease so that you can reduce the symptoms of Horner syndrome.


As you can clearly see, this condition is due to nerve damage in your body and it affects one side of your face. The pupils will be of different size in both the eyes and this is the most significant symptom of this condition. You need to be worried if this is causing any serious health complications in your body and get yourself diagnosed from a professional doctor . You need to be sure that this is not due to any serious brain disorder or other form of tumor in your body. In that situation, you will have to treat the underlying condition to get any sort of relief from these symptoms. This condition is not curable and you will have to manage by controlling the symptoms in the long run. However, most people manage to lead a comfortable life even when they are diagnosed with this condition.

Read More: Peptic Ulcer | Alopecia | Pellagra

Last updated on : 24-12-2018

Disclaimer : Docprime doesn’t endorse or take any guarantee of the accuracy or completeness of information provided under this article and these are the views strictly of the writer. Docprime shall not be held responsible for any aspect of healthcare services administered with the information provided on this article.

Leave a Comment