Bell’s palsy is a strange condition that causes weakness in the muscles of the face. Weakening of muscles of the face is sudden reaction that may change the appearance of the face. When the affected person smiles it will not be complete smile. One side of his face begins to droop and his eyes would resist closing as he continues to smile. Since the facial muscles are affected due to this problem Bell’s palsy is also known as facial palsy.
This condition can occur at any age with the sudden onset of symptoms. For most of the people the symptoms will automatically be resolved without any treatment. For few others with continued Bell’s palsy medications are prescribed to manage the inflammation of facial muscles. Surgery is also done to correct the compression of the nerve endings on the face. If you have sudden signs of weakness of your face and symptoms of Bell’s palsy you need to consult your doctor immediately since it can be due to more serious causes like stroke or ischemic attack.
Bell’s palsy is characterized by the sudden appearance of symptoms. It has the peculiar sign of face drooping on one side. It can cause partial or total paralysis of the nerves of your face and development can take place within hours. It becomes difficult for the person to smile and there may be trouble in closing the eyes on one side.
This can cause mild to moderate pain in the jaws and also on the ear of the affected side. Again all these symptoms appear on only one side of the face and not on both sides. In some cases it would cause numbness on the affected side. The affected side of the face becomes sensitive to sound and any movement. Some people will have problems in tasting the food and it can cause reduced secretion of saliva and tears. It can cause eye problems like reduced tears (dryness) or excess of tears on the eye.
What exactly triggers the problem of Bell’s palsy is not fully understood. It is believed to be caused by nerve weakness on the face or due to inflammation of facial muscles. Experts believe that Bell’s palsy occurs due to viral infection. Group of viruses that cause herpes simplex, herpes zoster, adenovirus, Epstein Barr virus, rubella virus and influenza virus can cause Bell’s palsy when the nerve endings of the facial muscles are affected. Actually the nerve endings become swollen affecting the normal movement of the facial muscles.
Who are at risk?
Bell’s palsy can develop on any individual irrespective of age and gender. People who have recently developed infections like flu or common cold affecting the upper respiratory tract are more prone to get Bell’s palsy than others. Pregnant women (III trimester stage) and women who have recently given birth are prone to develop Bell’s palsy.
In rare cases Bell’s palsy can cause permanent damage to the facial muscles. In extreme cases this disease can cause partial vision loss when the eyes become overly dry tearing the protective layer.
No lab test is available to diagnose Bell’s palsy. But the doctor can easily detect this problem by observing the symptoms and looking at your face. He may ask you to close your eyes or smile or lift your eyebrow to check for normal movements of the facial muscles.
Very often Bell’s palsy symptoms will get cured on its own within few days. However in some cases if the facial muscles become compressed medications can be given for correcting it. Anti-inflammatory drugs like prednisone are prescribed to reduce inflammation of face muscles. The muscles will have to sit properly on the narrow bony path to prevent the partial paralysis of the nerves. These drugs will give the desired effect and cure the symptoms. If the doctor suspect viral infection is the cause of Bell’s palsy he would prescribe antiviral medications like acyclovir or valacyclovir.
Physiotherapy is the next best alternative for treating compressed facial muscles. The therapist will gently massage the muscles on your face to get relief from compression. It would also prevent further shrinkage of the muscles. Surgery is the last choice for treating Bell’s palsy and is done only on severe cases. The surgeon would open the bony corridor on the face on which the nerve passes. He would gently relieve the pressure from the nerve endings on the face. However this type of surgery carries some risk. For some people this can cause deafness and permanent injury on the face.
Pictures of Bells Palsy :
Images, Pics, Pictures and Photos of Bells Palsy
Home Remedies :
In case the compressed face muscle has affected your eye you can use eye-drops for getting relief from dryness. This would keep your eyes moist and will also help in secretion of tears. To get temporary relief from pain beneath the ears due to Bell’s palsy you can take pain killers like Ibuprofen or aspirin. (Children should not be given aspirin without consulting the doctor)
Alternatively you can use hot and cold therapy on the affected eye to get relief from pain and dryness. Apply warm cloth over the affected eye and leave it for some minutes. Repeat this process using soft cloth dipped in ice water. This can be applied on the face also which helps in reducing the inflammation.