Bell’s Palsy, or Facial palsy is a condition that causes sudden temporary weakness or paralysis of the muscles of the face. This usually occurs on one side of the face. Facial palsy occurs when the nerves controlling the facial muscles become inflamed, swollen or is compressed.
Weakness or paralysis of one side of the face leads to drooping or stiffening of the muscles on that side. The person is unable to open or close the eyes. Paralysis begins suddenly, without any other symptoms, and worsens over 48 hours. Usually, Bell’s palsy is not permanent, but rarely, the symptoms and paralysis stays lifelong. The recovery begins usually after 2 weeks of the paralysis and recovery happens in a few months.
Symptoms and signs of Bell’s palsy:
Causes of Bell’s palsy:
When facial nerve or the seventh cranial nerve becomes swollen or compressed, resulting in facial weakness or paralysis.
Certain infections have known to lead to Bell’s palsy.
Diagnosis of Bell’s palsy:
Diagnosis of facial palsy is based on the presenting symptoms. The doctor may ask about the time of onset of the condition and also any previous incidence of infection or other conditions. Blood tests to check for bacterial or viral infection and MRI or CT scan helps in finding the nerves that have been affected. Electromyography measures muscle and nerve activity and helps in determining the pattern and time of recovery.
Treatment of Bell’s palsy:
Generally, symptoms of Bell’s palsy improve spontaneously, without treatment. But it may take several weeks or months after the improvement to get back the normal muscle strength and tone. If the symptoms do not improve within three months, it is important to investigate further.
Medication for Bell’s palsy:
Other treatments that can be done at home include:
Decompression surgery helps in easing the pressure on the facial nerve, but is rarely performed as it has the risk of resulting in hearing loss and permanent damage to the facial nerve.