If you are experiencing muscle weakness or paralysis on one side of the face, there may be chances that you are suffering from Bell’s palsy. Damaged facial nerves can cause the face to droop and further affecting the sense of taste. A person can develop this condition suddenly, overnight and can get over it within a few weeks. This condition was named after Charles Bell, a Scottish anatomist who first described this disorder. Bell’s palsy does not result from transient ischemic attack or stroke. However, if you are experiencing sudden weakness on one side of the face, it is essential to visit a doctor soon.
Bell’s palsy Symptoms
The patient can develop Bell’s palsy symptoms in a week or two following an ear or eye infection. The symptoms can appear abruptly in the morning or at the time when you try to eat something in the morning. One of the most prominent symptoms of Bell’s palsy is droopy appearance and the inability to close or open the eye on the affected part of the face. Other sign and symptoms that suggest toward this disorder are:
- Difficulty in Eating and Drinking.
- Facial Weakness.
- Sensitivity to Sound.
- Dry Eye and Mouth.
- Facial Muscle Twitches.
- Inability to Smile or Frown.
If you feel that you are developing any of the above-stated symptoms, call a doctor immediately. Never try to self-diagnose Bell’s palsy as it can have symptoms similar to other neurological disorders such as brain tumor and stroke.
Bell’s palsy Causes
The real cause of Bell’s palsy is not clear till date. However, it is believed that the inflammation of seventh cranial nerve results in facial paralysis or weakness. Many medical researchers also believe that Bell’s palsy is triggered by viral infection. Different viruses that are linked to the Bell’s palsy development include:
- HIV – Damaging the Immune System.
- Epstein-Barr – Causes Mononucleosis.
- Herpes simplex – Causes Genital Herpes and Cold Sores.
- Herpes zoster – Causes Shingles and Chickenpox.
- Sarcoidosis – Causes Organ Inflammation.
Bell’s palsy Risk Factor
Your chances of developing Bell’s palsy increases, if you:
- Are Pregnant.
- Have Lung Infection.
- Are Suffering From Diabetes.
- Have a Family History of Bell’s Palsy.
How to diagnose Bell’s palsy?
The doctor often starts by performing a physical test to determine the extent of facial muscle weakness. He may also start by asking you few questions about the signs and symptoms that you might be experiencing. You should note when the symptoms first occur or when they were first noticed. If the symptoms are not clear, you may be required to undertake some other tests to make it clearer. You may be required to undergo CT scan and MRI scan to check the extent till which the facial nerves have been damaged.
- Electromyography (EMG): In this process, electrodes are placed on the face of the patient and attached to a machine that measures nerve electrical activity. This test can easily determine the location of nerve damage along with the extent of the damage. X-ray, MRI, CT scan: These scans help determine whether the symptoms are caused by Bell’s palsy or other conditions such as skull fracture, tumor or bacterial infection.
Bell’s palsy Treatment
In a majority of cases, Bell’s palsy can be treated without medications; however, it may take several months for the face to regain its normal strength. The following treatment may help the patient:
- Antiviral Medications.
- Corticosteroid Drugs.
- Massaging the Face.
- Over-the-Counter Pain Medications.
- Eye Drops and Eye Patches.
- Massaging the Face.
- Physical Therapy Exercises.
Bell’s palsy Recovery
Patients in large number are able to make a full recovery in nine months or less. However, patients with serious nerve damage are required to undergo further treatment which includes:
- Plastic Surgery: Plastic surgery helps improve the symmetry and facial appearance. Some patients are able to gain enormous benefits as they are able to smile again. However, this does not treat the nerve problem.
- Mime Therapy: A part of physical therapy, mime therapy allows the patient to strengthen their facial muscles. Mime therapy results in a wide range of movement and better coordination.
- Botox®: Injecting Botox® can help patients suffering from Bell’s palsy. Scientists have found that specific areas of the brain may reorganize after getting injected with Botox®. Recovery time differs from person to person but in general, patients can see the improvement in a short span of time. Get in touch with an experienced doctor for prompt treatment and to prevent any further complications.