Bell’s palsy occurs when the seventh cranial nerve becomes swollen or compressed, resulting in facial weakness or paralysis.
The exact cause of this damage is unknown, but many medical researchers believe it’s most likely triggered by a viral infection.
A Facebook friend posted a picture today and revealed that the picture was taken last year when she was battling Bell’s palsy. I had to go and read up about this health condition.
From everything I have read on different health blogs about this health condition, it is not child’s play and it is not a satanic attack like some religious fanatics may claim when it happens to someone they know.
Below are 10 things Nigerian women should know about Bell’s palsy so that they can be better informed about it:
1. Bell’s palsy is also known as idiopathic facial paralysis. It is sudden weakness in the muscles on one half of the face. It can occur when the nerve that controls your facial muscles becomes inflamed, swollen, or compressed.
2. In most cases, Bell’s palsy symptoms improve without treatment within six months. However, it can take several weeks or months for the muscles in your face to regain their normal strength. Physiotherapy can help prevent muscles from permanently contracting.
3. The condition is more common among people between ages 16 and 60 even though it can also occur at any age. Bell’s palsy is named after the Scottish anatomist Charles Bell, who was the first to describe the condition.
4. One of the symptoms of Bell’s palsy is droopy appearance on one side of the face and the inability to open or close one’s eye on the affected side. In rare cases, Bell’s palsy may affect both sides of someone’s face.
5. A weak immune system is one response to severe stress. The weaker the body’s immune system, the less functional the body’s systems are. A weakened immunity can lead to parts of the body not functioning correctly, and this can cause Bell’s palsy.
6. High blood pressure can cause Bell’s palsy. The condition has also been associated with headaches, chronic middle ear infections, diabetes, tumors, and Lyme disease, among other things.
7. Your risk of developing Bell’s palsy increases if you are pregnant, have a lung infection, have diabetes or a family history of the condition.
8. To diagnose Bell’s palsy, your doctor will first perform a physical examination to determine the extent of the weakness in your facial muscles. He or she will also ask you questions about your symptoms, including when they occurred or when you first noticed them.
Your doctor can also use a variety of tests to make a Bell’s palsy diagnosis. These tests may include blood tests to check for the presence of a bacterial or viral infection. Your doctor might also use an MRI or CT scan to check the nerves in your face.
9. Medication for the condition include drugs, which reduce inflammation, antiviral or antibacterial medication, which may be prescribed if a virus or bacteria caused your Bell’s palsy, pain medications which can help relieve mild pain and eye drops.
10. Complications may occur in more severe cases of Bell’s palsy. You may have damage to the seventh cranial nerve. This nerve controls your facial muscles. You may have excessive dryness in the eye, which can lead to eye infections, ulcers, or even blindness. You may have synkinesis, which is a condition in which moving one body part causes another to move involuntarily. For example, your eye may close when you smile.
Is Bell’s palsy a stroke? The condition is not caused by a stroke, but it can cause similar symptoms. See your doctor if you experience facial weakness or drooping to find out the underlying cause and severity of the illness.
Patients with this condition who don’t get treated will suffer long-term problems including facial disfigurement, facial spasms and chronic pain. This is what happens if Bell’s palsy goes untreated.
If you are suffering from Bell’s palsy, avoid hard, chewy foods as they can be difficult to prepare and choose a soft easy chew diet (such as fish, pasta, well cooked meats and vegetables.
Do a gentle massage of your face, neck and head area several times per day. Take 5-7 minutes each time. Apply a few drops of massage oil on your face, so you do not pull the skin too hard.
The massage will improve the blood and lymph circulation, which increases the speed of nerve regeneration. This is one of the fastest ways to recover from Bell’s palsy.
The early symptoms of Bells palsy may include a slight fever, pain behind the ear, a stiff neck, and weakness and/or stiffness on one side of the face.
The symptoms may begin suddenly and progress rapidly over several hours, and sometimes follow exposure to cold. Part or all of the face may be affected. These are some of the warning sign’s of Bell’s palsy.
Will my face go back to normal after Bell’s palsy?
In most cases, facial paralysis from Bell’s palsy is temporary. You are likely to notice gradual improvement after about two weeks. Within three months, most people have recovered full motion and function of their face. A delay in recovery is often accompanied by some form of abnormal facial function.
Bell’s palsy is the result of a malfunction of the facial nerve which controls the muscles of the face. Facial palsy is characterized by inability to move the muscles of facial expression. The paralysis of the infranuclear/lower motor neuron type. This is the difference between Bell’s palsy and facial palsy.