- A sudden and temporary weakness in a person’s facial muscles mostly on one side is known as “Bell’s Palsy”.
- Symptoms include but are not limited to– loss of control of facial muscles on one side of the face-difficulty in performing common functions such as smilin and, chewing, facial drooping, difficulty in closing eyes , drooling, headache, pain around ear or jaw and decrease in taste.
- Even though there is no clear defined cause for Bell’s palsy, in many cases it has been said to occur when the Facial nerve that is related to various facial muscles becomes swollen or compressed, resulting in facial weakness or paralysis mostly post viral infections.
- Viral infections, Stress, trauma, environmental factors such as excess cold and metabolic disorders are some of the known triggers.
- Risk for developing Bell’s palsy increases in low immunity states such as pregnancy, diabetes, lung infections or known family history. Extremes of age groups such as 16 or 60 also have increased risk.
- Bell’s palsy is a diagnosis of exclusion. Meaning, all possible causes of the presenting symptoms have to be excluded first prior to diagnosing Bell’s palsy.
- If the cause of your symptoms is not clear the doctor may recommend some tests such as blood tests- to check for the presence of a bacterial or viral infection, Electromyography (EMG) or Imaging scans such as MRI or CT – to check other possible causes of symptoms.
- Corticosteroids, antiviral medication and physiotherapy are the mainstay of the treatment and need to be discussed with the doctor.
At home care include
- PAIN RELIEF- OTC pain relieving medicines
- EYE CARE- Proper eye care-since the blinking function on the affected side is lost temporarily, it is very important to take care of it by using lubricating eye drops or ointments to keep it moist and wearing glasses or goggles to protect from injury. Doctor may also advise for eye patch.
- PHYSIOTHERAPY- Doing your physical therapy exercises, massaging and exercising your face according to your physiotherapist’s advice may help relax and strengthen your facial muscles.
- DENTAL CARE: If there is little or no feeling in the mouth it is easy for food particles to get stuck in the mouth especially in between teeth leading to tooth decay or gum disease. Special care must be taken by using mouthwashes, regular and proper brushing and flossing.
- EATING CARE- If there is difficulty with chewing and swallowing, it is advisable to eat soft food items.
People with Bell’s palsy are known to recover completely in a time period of 1-2 months. A detailed evaluation must be done if there is no sign of improvement after 1 month of treatment or if there is recurrence.
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