Bell’s palsy

Bell’s palsy is characterized by sudden onset of weakness in the facial muscles. And for this reason, half of the affected person’s face looks droopy.

The smile is unilateral and the eye on the affected side resists closing.

The disease is also known as facial nerve palsy and can occur at any age.

The exact cause of it is unknown, but it is thought to result from swelling and inflammation that controls the muscles on one side of the face.

It may represent a reaction that occurs after a viral infection.

For most people, the paralysis is temporary. Symptoms usually start and resolve within a few weeks, with full recovery occurring in about 6 months.

A small proportion of affected people continue to experience the clinical manifestations of the paralysis for the rest of their lives. And in rare cases, the disease can recur.

What are the symptoms?

• Sudden onset of a slight feeling of weakness to complete paralysis on one side of the face, which may last from a few hours to a few days, which makes it difficult to smile or close the eye on the affected side;

• Facial depression or difficulty making facial expressions;

• Pain around the jaw or in or behind the ear on the affected side;

• Increased sensitivity to sound on one side;

• Headache;

• Weakening of taste sensations;

• Change in the amount of saliva and tears;

In rare cases, paralysis can affect both sides of the face.

A person should seek medical attention immediately if they experience any kind of paralysis because they may be having a stroke. Bell’s palsy is not caused by a stroke.

However, if a person experiences weakness in the muscles or drooping of the face, a doctor should be consulted to determine the root cause and the severity of the disease.

What are the causes?

Although the exact cause of paralysis is not known, it is often associated with exposure of the body to a viral infection.

The most common causes are viruses, causing the following diseases:

• Oral and genital herpes /herpes simplex/;
• Varicella and herpes zoster /herpes zoster/;
• Mononucleosis /Epstein-Barr/;
• Cytomegalovirus infections;
• Respiratory diseases /adenovirus/;
• Rubella;
• Mumps /mumps viruses/;
• Influenza /influenza B/;
• Hand, foot, mouth disease /coxsackie viruses/;

The disease is characterized by the nerve that controls the facial muscles and passes through a narrow bony passage on its way to the face becoming inflamed and swollen, usually due to a viral infection.

In addition to the facial muscles, nerve inflammation affects salivation, tears, taste, and a small bone in the middle ear.

Treatment of Bell’s palsy

Most affected people restore normal muscle tone to their facial muscles without any treatment, but the treating doctor may recommend complex therapy with drugs such as corticosteroids and antivirals and physical therapy.

• To prevent dryness in the eyes and maintain their normal moisture, you can use lubricating drops for the day and eye ointment for the night. Wearing glasses during the day and a bandage at night will protect your eyes from injury;

• To relieve pain, you can use conventional painkillers – paracetamol and ibuprofen;

• Applying warm compresses to the face several times a day will also relieve painful sensations.

• Do the exercises recommended by your physical therapist. Massaging and exercising the facial muscles as directed will help strengthen the facial muscles.

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