Bell’s palsy or idiopathic facial paralysis is a dysfunction of cranial nerve VII (the facial nerve) that results in inability to control facial muscles on the affected side. Several conditions can cause a facial paralysis, e.g., brain tumor, stroke, and Lyme disease. However, if no specific cause can be identified, the condition is known as Bell’s palsy. Named after Scottish anatomist Charles Bell, who first described it, Bell’s palsy is the most common acute mononeuropathy (disease involving only one nerve) and is the most common cause of acute facial nerve paralysis.
What Is Bell’s Palsy? :Bell’s palsy is a temporary weakness or paralysis of the muscles on one side of the face. These muscles are controlled by the facial nerve. Because there’s a facial nerve on each side of a person’s face, and Bell’s palsy usually affects just one nerve, people with Bell’s palsy will most likely notice stiffness or weakness on one side of the face.
When the facial nerve is working properly, it carries a host of messages from the brain to the face. These messages may tell an eyelid to close, one side of the mouth to smile or frown, or salivary glands to make spit. Facial nerves also help our bodies make tears and taste favorite foods. But if the nerve swells and is compressed, as happens with Bell’s palsy, these messages don’t get sent correctly. The result is weakness or temporary paralysis of the muscles on one side of the face.
What Causes It? The exact cause of Bell’s palsy is unknown. It believes that Bell’s palsy is most often connected with a viral infection such as herpes (the virus that causes cold sores), Epstein-Barr (the virus that causes mono), or influenza (the flu). It’s also associated with the infectious agent that causes Lyme disease. Of course, this doesn’t mean that everyone who has a viral infection or Lyme disease will develop Bell’s palsy — most people don’t. But in a few people, the immune system’s response to a viral infection leads to inflammation of the nerve. Because it’s swollen, the nerve gets compressed as it passes through a small hole at the base of the skull, which causes the symptoms of Bell’s palsy.
Bell’s palsy can affect people of all ages, but it is most common in adults. People with diabetes and pregnant women are more likely to develop Bell’s palsy.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms?
- Sometimes you may have a cold shortly before the symptoms of Bell’s palsy begin.
- Symptoms most often start suddenly, but may take 2 – 3 days to show up. They do not become more severe after that.
- Symptoms are almost always on one side only. They may range from mild to severe.
The face will feel stiff or pulled to one side, and may look different. Other symptoms can include:
- Difficulty eating and drinking; food falls out of one side of the mouth
- Drooling due to lack of control over the muscles of the face
- Drooping of the face, such as the eyelid or corner of the mouth
- Hard to close one eye
- Problems smiling, grimacing, or making facial expressions
- Twitching or weakness of the muscles in the face
Other symptoms that may occur:
- Dry eye or mouth
- Loss of sense of taste
- Sound that is louder in one ear (hyperacusis)
- Twitching in face
The treatment of Bell’s palsy is controversial. In some cases of incomplete facial palsy, no treatment is required. However, people suffering from complete Bell’s palsy require medical treatment. Doctors prescribe anti-inflammatory corticosteroid for people who are not able to close their eye and mouth on the affected side. Prednisolone is one type of corticosteroid that is used for treating this disease. The consumption of this for 3-9 months shows the chances of totally recovery. The disease is thought to be associated with the herpes virus. Because of this many neurologists prescribe acyclovir, an anti viral drug. Often doctors prescribe surgical procedures in order to decompress the nerves of the face. However, such surgeries are not often successful and the success rates are more than often chance oriented.
PROPER PHYSIOTHERAPY SESSIONS CAN BE ONE OF THE BEST TREATMENT.