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Facts About Bell’s Palsy

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.

Person Affect with Bell's Palsy Wikipedia.com

Person Affect with Bell's Palsy Wikipedia.com

History of Bell’s Palsy

Muhammad ibn Zakarlya al-Razi (865-925) is a Persian physician who first described peripheral and central facial palsy. In 1683, Cornelis Stalpart van der Wiel gave an account of Bell’s palsy, along with some other physicians. Sir Charles Bell, for whom the condition is named after, also presented 3 cases to the Royal Society of London in 1829.

Sir Charles Bell

Sir Charles Bell

Bell's Palsy Facts

Bell’s palsy is a temporary condition that results in unexplained facial weakness or paralysis. It occurs suddenly and typically worsens over forty eight hours.

On a worldwide basis Bell’s palsy affects from 11 to 40 people out of 100,000. In the United States there are 40,000 to 60,000 new cases each year.

Bell’s palsy is more likely to occur if you have one of the following diseases. They include:

  • Cold or a viral ailment
  • Lyme disease
  • Guillain-Barré syndrome
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Multiple sclerosis

There are several viruses that have also been linked to Bell’s palsy, including:

  • “Cold sores and genital herpes (herpes simplex)
  • Chickenpox and shingles (herpes zoster)
  • Infectious mononucleosis (Epstein-Barr)
  • Cytomegalovirus infections
  • Respiratory illnesses (adenovirus)
  • German measles (rubella)
  • Mumps (mumps virus)
  • Flu (influenza B)
  • Hand-foot-and-mouth disease (coxsackievirus)”

Symptoms

There are several possible signs and symptoms tend to occur suddenly, like mild weakness or total paralysis on one side of the face. This can occur within hours or even days.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Disordered movement of the muscles that control facial expressions, causing facial drooping and facial movement, like smiling or blinking
  • Drooling
  • Loss of feeling in the facenking, squinting or closing the eyelid
  • Pain around the jaw or behind the ear on the affected side
  • Headache
  • Loss of the sense of taste on the front two-thirds of the tongue
  • Hypersensitivity to sound in the affected ear (hyperacusis)
  • Inability to close the eye on the affected side of the face
  • A loss of taste
  • Changes in the amount of tears and saliva you produce

Bell's Palsy, Pathophysiology, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment, Animation

Diagnoses

First, your physician will look at your symptoms. There is no specific test to diagnose Bell’s palsy. Your physician may order specific tests to rule out other conditions and also to determine the amount of nerve involvement and/or damage.

The tests may include:

  • Lab work to look for other conditions, like diabetes of Lyme disease
  • Electromyography (EMG) to determine the extent of the nerve involvement
  • MRI or a CAT scan to look at possible structural causes

Your physician will rule out the presence of a stroke or tumor that may cause Bell’s palsy.

Affected nerve

Affected nerve

Bell’s Palsy Treatment

If there is a specific cause identified for your symptoms, like an infection, it will be treated. The eye must be protected from drying at night if it will not completely close, so an eye ointment should be used.

If Bell’s palsy is diagnosed early a course of oral corticosteroids will be prescribed, and this is particularly true if you also have an autoimmune disease. Other possible treatments that are based on your health history include:

  • Antiviral medicine (like acyclovir)
  • Analgesics or moist heat to relieve pain
  • Physical therapy to stimulate the facial nerve
  • Valacyclovir (Valtrex) or acyclovir (Zovirax) with prednisone in for severe facial palsy

Alternative therapies some people try include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Biofeedback training
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Physical or massage therapy
  • Vitamin therapy, including B12, B6, and the mineral zinc

Treating Bell's Palsy & Other Facial Paralysis - SLUCare Otolaryngology

Bell’s Palsy Complications

Long term complications are rare. For people that are unable to close their eye, damage will occur if some moisture treatment is not adhered to, so eye drops during the day and eye ointment at night will protect the eye.

Final Thoughts

Bell’s palsy typically starts to improve in two weeks, but it may take from 3 to 6 months for your face to look and feel normal again. It is important to see your physician if you develop this disease. Seeking treatment early may shorten the length of the disease.

There is no research that shows the benefits of any alternative therapies. It is important to drink enough water as dehydration could be a problem if drinking liquids becomes more difficult. Hearing loss is rare, but it could also be a result. It is important to get help from a physician if your symptoms do not resolve by 6 months.

References

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2021 Pamela Oglesby

Comments

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on May 30, 2021:

Hi Flourish,

This disease can be pretty debilitating, yet it usually goes away without treatment. I think a stroke is what most people would think initially. I'm glad things turned out okay for your mother.

Thank you so much for your comments. I hope you are enjoying the Memorial Day weekend.

FlourishAnyway from USA on May 30, 2021:

Years ago, my mother developed this within a such a short time frame that we thought she may have had a stroke. At the time, we hadn't heard of Bell's Palsy. It gradually went away without treatment. This was before they tended to treat the eye for moisture, etc. I do recall she couldn't drink from a cup or straw well at all.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on May 26, 2021:

Hi Adrienne,

The signs of Bell's palsy are really straightforward. No one wants it, but it does usually go away in a fairly short time.

Thank you for reading and commenting.

Adrienne Farricelli on May 26, 2021:

Well, with this condition I guess the good thing is that it's rather easy to recognize that something is wrong. Other than stroke or something else, the signs of Bell's Palsy seem rather straightforward.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on May 26, 2021:

Hi Audrey,

It is sometimes initially thought to b a stroke, which is scary. The only good news is that it usually goes away, even without any specific treatment.

I appreciate your comments. I hope you are having a good week.

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on May 26, 2021:

Thank you, Pamela, for another informative article. I've learned so much from you about different diseases. Bell's Palsy would be a terrible thing to live with. It sounds like it resembles a stroke in some ways. Thanks, again.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on May 25, 2021:

Hi Devika,

I am always glad when you find my medical articles informative. I always appreciate your comments. Take care.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on May 25, 2021:

Hi Pamela A hub so worth the read and important to know about. You have shared many medical hubs and that is what makes a difference to us, Learning about Bell's Palsy and often I heard of this but not as much as you have explained.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on May 25, 2021:

Hi Peggy,

I am glad you are reading and commenting on my medical articles. I always appreciate your comments. We will always need medical personnel for sure and we seem to need them more as we age.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on May 25, 2021:

Hi gyanendra,

I absolutely agree about not knowing what is next in life. I am glad you found the article informative.

Thank you for your comments.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 25, 2021:

You continually inform us about medical issues. Keep up the good work, Pamela! As Bill mentioned, there are so many things that can affect our bodies. We will always need doctors, nurses, and other people in the medical field!

gyanendra mocktan from Kathmandu,Nepal on May 25, 2021:

Pamela,

Thank you for sharing your knowlege about Bell's Palsy. It enhances my knowlege and be prepared in case....

We never know what's next in life.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on May 25, 2021:

Hi Linda,

I think the more you know the better off you are, so I keep writing about these different medical conditions.

I appreciate you comments, as always.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on May 24, 2021:

Thank you once again for sharing your knowledge, Pamela. It’s good to inform people about the conditions that you describe.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on May 24, 2021:

Hi Peace,

I am glad you appreciated this information. Thank you for reading and commenting.

Peace Tobe Dike from Delta State, Nigeria. on May 24, 2021:

This is an informative piece...thank you for sharing and spreading awareness.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on May 24, 2021:

Hi Fran,

I appreciate your comments. I'm glad you liked the article.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on May 24, 2021:

Hi Umesh,

Thank you so much for reading and commenting.

fran rooks from Toledo, Ohio on May 24, 2021:

Ditto to you--have a great week.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on May 24, 2021:

Well explained.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on May 24, 2021:

Hi Fran,

Yes, I agree with your comment. If our bodies could always heal easily that would be great.

I appreciate your comments, as always. Have a great week!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on May 24, 2021:

Hi Mel,

I am glad to know you have not experienced this disease in any way. However, it is good to be aware that it exists.

Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I hope you have a great week!

fran rooks from Toledo, Ohio on May 24, 2021:

Pamela, another great article. I am glad to hear this problem can 'cure' itself. Wish many other medical problems could so easily be resolved. Thanks for the post.

Mel Carriere from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on May 24, 2021:

Wow, another ailment that I was unaware of until now. Usually your articles are an "Eureka" moment for me, because I know someone this condition relates to, but fortunately Bell's Palsy has not touched my life yet, and I want to keep it that way. Great work.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on May 24, 2021:

Hi MG,

Bell's palsy does typically resolve on its own, even without treatment. At least now you are better informed.

I appreciate your comments, as always. I hope you have a good week.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on May 24, 2021:

Hi Chitrangada,

Bell's palsy really is facial paralysis, so they weren't wrong. This disease usually goes away even with out treatment. That is the only good news I guess.

Thank you so much for your comments. I hope you have a good week.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on May 24, 2021:

Hi Linda,

Your brother's experience sounds typical of most people. It is frightening and I think most people would think of a stroke first. I don't think Bell's palsy is that well known. I have seen it in my nursing career.

Thank you for sharing your brother's experience and for your nice comment. I hope you have a good week too.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on May 24, 2021:

Thank you Pamela, one of my Friends had an attack of Bells palsy and I was told there's no cure for it except micro surgery. You have given an excellent write up on the subject.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on May 24, 2021:

Hi Bill,

You are so right. There are so many diseases that it is almost amazing to be healthy.

I appreciate your nice comments, my friend. I hope you have a great week too!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on May 24, 2021:

Hi Misbah,

At least tea is a healthier choice than some beverages. Water does cleanse the body.

Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments.

Blessings and lot of love for you too!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on May 24, 2021:

Hi Rosina,

It is good to know this disease will typically resolve over time without too much difficulty. The early checkup can help if they put you on prednisone.

I appreciate your comments.

Blessings for you.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on May 24, 2021:

Hi Peg,

They truly don't know the cause, but I guess is your system is compromised in any way you are at a higher risk for getting this disease. At least that is the way I understand it.

I hope you aunt recovered completely. Thank you for sharing your experience and for commenting.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on May 24, 2021:

This sounds scary!

Reading through your article, makes me understand now, that I know of some people, who developed this condition. This was termed as facial paralysis by them. It’s good that there is a treatment for this medical condition, if diagnosed early.

Thank you for sharing this valuable information, to spread awareness.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on May 24, 2021:

My brother was afflicted with this about 20+ years ago. When he looked in the mirror he saw that his face was drooping, and thought he had suffered a stroke. Quite frightening. But he recovered in a few weeks time and has had no lasting side effects. We were lucky.

But, I really didn't understand much about the condition. Now I do. Thanks for a fascinating article. I hope you have a good week Pamela.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on May 24, 2021:

There are so many things that can go wrong with our bodies and minds. It's amazing any of us are functioning at all. As always, informative and interesting, Pamela! Thank you and have a great week.

Misbah Sheikh from The World of Poets on May 24, 2021:

This is a very informative and helpful article, Pamela. Very well-written and well- researched too. Your final thoughts made me think of my health. I should drink a lot of water. My water intake is very low maybe due to high intake of tea. Don’t know

Thanks for sharing your knowledge. You are so kind

Take care. Stay happy and safe

Blessings and Lots of Love

Rosina S Khan on May 24, 2021:

There seems to be hope for Bell’s Palsy ailment. If someone develops the disease, an early checkup will shorten its span. Additionally, drinking fluids is a plus. I liked this article, Pamela. So well-written and well-expressed! Thanks for another wonderful contribtion in medical science arena.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on May 24, 2021:

The most surprising thing about this condition is the causes. I had wondered, since finding out my aunt had Bell's Palsy years ago. Interesting that a virus or the flu, even chicken pox can be responsible. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

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