Your guide to understanding Bell’s palsy
A neurological condition caused by inflammation, swelling and compression of the seventh cranial nerve, which is responsible for controlling the facial muscles, Bell's palsy is marked by stiffening or drooping of one side of the face. As the condition leads to a temporary weakness in the facial muscles, the patient may find it difficult to smile or blink eyes on the affected side of the face. As per the experts from the best neurology hospital in Mumbai, Bell's palsy is temporary in the majority of the cases and the symptoms don't last for more than a few weeks.
Looking out for symptoms associated with Bell's palsy:
It is pertinent to note that the symptoms of Bell's palsy become evident very abruptly and start showing their traces, a week or two after the patient has a cold, ear infection or eye infection. The condition usually affects one side of the face, and the chances of both sides being affected are quite rare. Here are some common symptoms associated with Bell's palsy, administered by the experts from the best neurology hospital in India:
- Eating and drinking difficulties
- Facial weakness
- Muscle twitches in the facial area
- Sound sensitivity
- Irritation or dryness in the eyes
- Inability to make facial expressions like smiling or frowning
If you are experiencing any such symptoms, it is important to seek proper medical help.
Possible causes of Bell's palsy:
As mentioned earlier, Bell's palsy is triggered by the swelling or compression of the seventh cranial nerve. Although it is not known why this happens, many experts suggest that it is caused by a viral infection. Here is a list of viruses and bacteria that may be responsible for it:
- Herpes simplex, which is responsible for causing cold sores and genital herpes
- HIV, which attacks the patient's immune system
- Sarcoidosis, which is marked by chronic organ inflammation
- Herpes zoster virus, which is known to trigger chickenpox and shingles
- Epstein Barr virus, which is responsible for causing mononucleosis
- Lyme disease
Also, there are certain factors that put you at an elevated risk of developing Bell's palsy. These include :
- Severe lung infection
- Family history
Diagnosing Bell's palsy:
The condition is usually diagnosed with the help of a physical examination that helps to assess the extent to which your facial muscles have been affected. You will be asked certain questions related to your symptoms and medical history. In case no problem is found during the physical examination, your doctor may suggest more detailed diagnostic techniques, that include:
- Blood test for finding the traces of any bacterial or viral infection
- Imaging modalities like MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and CT (computed tomography) scan for detecting any abnormalities in the nerves of your face.
Is it possible to get the condition treated?
Treatment for Bell's palsy is offered at the best brain hospital in Mumbai. In the majority of the cases, the patients do not require any treatment and their condition improves without any medical intervention. This may take a couple of months.
You may be recommended to take a few medicines like corticosteroid drugs, antiviral & antibacterial medication, painkillers and eye drops. You may be recommended to wear an eye patch if you have dry eyes. Facial massage and physical therapy have also been found to be effective in boosting the recovery process.
In extreme cases, Bell's palsy can induce irreversible damage to your facial nerve. The patient may experience an abnormal regrowth of nerve fibres, resulting in the undesired contraction of certain facial muscles, when you are actually trying to move others. Excessive dryness in the eyes can result in partial or complete blindness by damaging the cornea. Hence it is very important to see a doctor without any delay in the treatment.