Bell's Palsy, also called Facial Paralysis, occurs when the nerve responsible for facial muscle control on one side of the face becomes inflamed or swollen. This condition can affect anyone but usually those only between the ages of 15 to 60 years old. In most cases, the condition improves after a few weeks. Full recovery can happen within three to six months, although recurrence occurs in about 10 percent of patients.
Symptoms of Bell's palsy include facial weakness, sudden onset of weakness or paralysis on one side of the face, facial droop, inability to make facial expressions, pain in the jaw area or behind the ear of the affected side of the face, increased sensitivity to sound, headache, decrease in ability to taste, and increase or decrease in amount of tears or saliva. Only in rare cases does Bell's palsy affect both sides of the face.
- Herpes Simples, the most common cause of this condition. This is the same virus responsible for genital herpes and cold sores.
- Herpes Zoster, the same virus that causes chickenpox and shingles.
- Epstein-Barr, which also causes mononucleosis.
- Cytomegalovirus, which causes inflammation or swelling of the nerve that controls the muscles in your face.
Treatments and Drugs
Fortunately, many people who suffer from this can recover fully with or without treatment. But it would be best to consult your doctor who can prescribe medications or order for physical therapy to speed up recovery.
Medications commonly prescribed for this condition include corticosteroids and antiviral drugs. Corticosteroids, like prednisone, reduces the facial nerve swelling. Antiviral drugs, meanwhile, inhibit the progression of the viral infection that caused the disease.
Since the paralyzed muscles can shrink, this can cause permanent contractures. To ensure that your face would get back to its normal state, you can get help from a physical therapist who can help you exercise and massage your facial muscles. Only in rare cases that surgery is required. In surgery, the bony passage where the facial nerve passes through is surgically opened. This method of treatment, however, is controversial. Doctors rarely recommend it.
Home Remedies and Lifestyle Changes
First, you have to protect the eye that can't be closed. Use lubricating eye drops during the day to keep moisture in the eyes. At night, you can apply eye ointment for the same purpose. It would be best to wear protective glasses, eye patch, or goggle to protect the eye from getting scratched or poked. It would also help to take over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen, among others. Apply moist heat such as washcloth soaked in warm water on your face during the day to relieve the pain.