Dealing with Bell’s Palsy
We have a facial nerve that stretches down each side of the face. These nerves allow us to laugh, smile, frown, and open and close our eyelids. Sometimes facial paralysis occurs when a person is unable to move all or some of the muscles usually on one side of the face. There can be various reasons such as brain tumors that can cause this. One of the more typical reasons is Bell’s palsy.
Dr. Shams has various treatment options for facial paralysis and Bell’s palsy.
What is Bell’s palsy?
Bell’s palsy is a condition where the muscles on one side of your face become paralyzed or weak. It only affects one side of the face, causing that side to droop or become stiff.
What causes Bell’s palsy?
Bell’s palsy can happen to anyone. It is more frequent in those who have diabetes or are recovering from a viral infection. The condition is caused by some trauma to the seventh cranial nerve, the “facial nerve.”
It’s believed Bell’s palsy is due to damage to the facial nerve, which causes swelling. This nerve passes through a narrow, bony area within the skull, so when there is swelling it can affect how well the nerve works.
Research has shown a connection between viral infections and the development of Bell’s palsy. The herpes simplex 1 virus (cold sores and fever blisters) may be associated with a large number of cases.
What are the symptoms of Bell’s palsy?
Bell’s palsy tends to come on all of the sudden. You may have been fine when you went to bed, but awoke to see one side of your face drooping.
Sometimes there are signs before the onset of Bell’s palsy. Some people feel pain behind their ear 1-2 days before any weakness shows itself. Others say sounds seem much louder in the days before.
These are some other signs that will occur on one side of your face before onset:
- You’re unable to close your eyelid or blink
- Difficulty chewing
- Eyes watering more or less than usual
- Decreased sense of taste
- Twitching in your facial muscles
- Pain or numbness behind the ear
Any facial weakness or dropping usually reaches its peak in a day or two. Most people begin to see the condition going away in a week or two, and they usually fully recover within three months.
Treating Bell’s palsy
There aren’t any treatments that stop Bell’s palsy, but treatments can reduce the symptoms. These can include antiviral medication or a short course of corticosteroids. These are typically prescribed by your GP, or the hospital doctor, such as a Ear Nose and Throat specialist (ENT). Occasionally if the diagnosis is uncertain an MRI scan is needed to look for other causes of facial nerve palsy. Dr. Shams’s expertise is in helping to protect your eye, if the eyelids do not close, causing red, watery eyes and blurred vision. This may wearing include an eye patch, applying eye drops or ointments to keep your eye from drying out or other methods to help close the eyes, either temporarily or more permanently if needed. She may also use Botulinum Toxin to treat any unwanted twitching of the eyelids, which can sometimes occur following a Bell’s Palsy.
Do you think you may have Bell’s palsy or facial paralysis? Call Dr. Shams at 07488 909 008 to set up your appointment.
Posted in: Facial Nerve Palsy