Bell’s palsy is the most common form of facial paralysis. It accounts for about 1 in 60 persons in a lifetime. Bell’s palsy is a condition brought up by temporary weakness or paralysis of the muscles in the face. Facial muscles may get inflamed, swollen, or compressed.
Having Bell’s palsy can be a terrifying and confusing sometimes. As most of the person with Bell’s palsy may initially fear that they are having a stroke due to increase in number of stroke these days. There is no weakness of the hands, arms or legs in Bell’s palsy. Bell’s palsy affects the entire half of the face, including the forehead (whereas normally during a stroke, the forehead is spared).
What causes Bell’s palsy?
Bell’s palsy is an idiopathic condition.
It has not yet been possible to find out that how the facial nerve becomes compressed, however some researches have been made.
- Viruses (including herpes, influenza and respiratory tract infections),
- Lyme disease
- Psychological issue
Risk factors may include pregnancy, diabetes mellitus and lung infection.
What are the symptoms of Bell’s palsy?
Bell’s palsy causes one side of your face to droop or stiff. It occurs abruptly, without warning,quite a hours, peaking at 48 hours.
Main symptoms of Bell’s palsy
- Partial or complete paralysis of one half of the face sometimes accompanied by a ‘drooping’ and “stiffness” of the affected side of the face. (In approximately 1% of cases, both sides of the face are affected.)
- Inability to close with dryness of the eye of affected side
- Inability to make facial expressions, such as smiling or frowning
- muscle twitches in the face
- Sharp pain in the inner ear
- Impaired or altered sense of taste.
- Sensitivity to loud sound.
- Difficulty with eating( due to loss of control of the lips and cheek on one side)
- Difficulty with speaking clearly, such as ‘B’ and ‘P’.
- Pain behind the ear may precede the paralysis for a day or two.
How is Bell’s palsy diagnosed?
- Blood tests to rule out other potential causes, such as Lyme disease
- Imaging, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerised tomography (CT scan), to rule out other potential causes such as tumours. MRI may also reveal swelling and uniform enhancement of the genicuIate ganglion and facial nerve
- Tests with an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist.
- A nerve test called electromyography (EMG) may be requested sometime after the onset of facial paralysis to identify if the facial nerve has been damaged.
If you suspect that you have Bell’s palsy, then you should visit your Doctor as soon as possible. It is important to seek medical advice within 72 hours of onset.
What is the treatment for Bell’s palsy?
The best recovery occurs where the duration and severity of nerve inflammation is minimised.
Eye care is extremely important in the initial stages of Bell’s palsy. Ensure that your cornea is kept moist and protected.