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Can You Die From Horner’s Syndrome & How Do You Stop It From Spreading?

Horner’s syndrome is a medical condition that affects the sympathetic nerve of a person. It affects the eye and face. It is marked by the sinking of one of the eyeballs into the orbital cavity and unequal size of the pupils. Dr. Johann Friedrich Horner names it concluded that this syndrome originated due to an underlying problem in the sympathetic nervous system that supplies face and eyes. It is more common in men than in women. It can appear at any age. It is diagnosed by a cocaine drop test, paredrine test, neurological examination, and imaging tests such as X-ray, CT scan, and MRI scan.

Can You Die From Horner’s Syndrome?

Horner’s syndrome is a rare medical condition characterized by the affection of nerve supply to one side of the face. It is also termed as oculosympathetic palsy and Bernard-Horner syndrome. Its symptoms develop in the eyes. It can appear in people of any age.(1)

Horner’s syndrome is represented by symptoms such as drooping of the eyelid, irregular pupils, and lack of perspiration on one side of the face or both sides. Though symptoms are not dangerous, they may indicate a more serious health problem.(2)

In many cases, there is no specific underlying cause for Horner’s syndrome. There is no particular line of treatment for this condition. But it is observed that if underlying causes are controlled or treated well, then the nerve function is restored.(3)

The abnormalities that appear in the eye area related to this syndrome do not generally impact vision or health. However, the nerve damage that induces Horner syndrome may develop as a result of other health problems like stroke, injury, or trauma to the brain and spinal cord. Some of them can be life-threatening. Nobody dies of Horner syndrome, and it may happen due to its underlying causes.(2)

Horner’s syndrome is caused by predisposing factors such as-

Lesion Or Injury To The Cervical Chain- it can affect a particular side of the body. It can be caused by any accident or traumatic injury.

Trauma to the neck- any injury to the neck, such as severe whiplash can induce this condition.

Infection – middle ear infections can cause injury to the sympathetic nerves supplying the face and eyes.

The Tumor Developed In The Anterior Part Of The Lung- Lung cancer is linked with this condition. Some clinical studies state that it is one of the common causes of this condition. Nearly 35% of cases with Horner’s syndrome are observed to be caused by tumors that have appeared in the lungs and thyroid.

Migraine Or Headaches appearing in the form of clusters may also be one of the risk factors of this syndrome.

Stroke Or Cerebrovascular Accident- researchers believe that Aneurysm can induce this condition. It is also thought that vascular problems can be the root cause of this condition.

Drugs- Certain drugs such as diacetylmorphine, levodopa, methotrimeprazine, prilocaine, procaine, and reserpine can increase the risk of Horner’s syndrome. These drugs are commonly used and may exhibit similar symptoms as that of Horner’s syndrome.

How Do You Stop Horner’s Syndrome From Spreading?

Avoidance of neck injury can be helpful to prevent the Horner’s syndrome from developing. A healthy diet and lifestyle can also assist in the prevention of the syndrome. If the predisposing factors of the disease condition are avoided, then this condition can also be avoided. (4) It does not spread from one person to another as it is not a contagious disease.


Horner’s syndrome is not a life-threatening medical condition, so it does not cause death. It does not spread from person to person. However, if the predisposing factors of this syndrome, such as spinal injury, others discussed above are avoided, then this syndrome can be prevented from happening in many cases.


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:May 2, 2020

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