Bell’s Palsy: The Facial Nerve Condition You Should Know About
Bell’s Palsy is a condition where the muscles on one side of the face become paralyzed or weakened. It is characterized by a drooped or stiff look on one side of the face. Let’s discuss common questions that patients have about this facial nerve condition.
What causes Bell’s Palsy?
Bell’s Palsy is the result of trauma to the seventh cranial nerve, also known as the “facial nerve”. When this nerve is injured, facial swelling results. This sensitive nerve is located in a bony narrow area of the skull. Because of it’s location, any swelling in which the nerve pushes against the skull can dramatically affect it. Viral infections may also be a cause of Bell’s Palsy. Studies show that the herpes simplex 1 virus might be to blame for many cases as well. Bell’s Palsy is also seen in people who have diabetes.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of Bell’s Palsy are usually temporary. Some patients have reported feeling ear pain a few days before they notice drooping in their face. Others say they went to bed feeling fine then woke up with signs of weakness in their face. The following may also be present before the onset of Bell’s Palsy: difficulty chewing, decreased ability to taste, twitching facial muscles, drooling, an inability to blink or close an eyelid, or watery eyes. People will often begin to feel better within a day or two or a few weeks after the onset of the condition. Recovery is satisfactory by the end of three months. In rare situations some people have permanent issues.
How is Bell’s Palsy diagnosed and treated?
Bell’s Palsy is usually diagnosed through a process of exclusion. For instance, the doctor will determine you have Bell’s Palsy when all other conditions have been excluded. As part of your appointment, your doctor will do a physical exam and assess how well your eye can close. If it cannot, this condition is called the “Bell phenomenon” in which the eye rolls upward and outward whenever you attempt to close it. X-rays, a CT scan, or MRI may be ordered to rule out any other conditions. One or more of the following treatments may be prescribed: facial muscle massage, anti viral medication, or corticosteroids.
Arrange a consultation
If you think you have Bell’s Palsy symptoms, arrange a consultation with Coastal Ear, Nose & Throat. You can reach our office by calling 732-280-7855. We look forward to assisting you.