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Bell’s palsy

  • Overview


    Bell’s palsy is a medical condition that results in sudden muscle weakness on one side of the face. This weakness is typically temporary and improves significantly over several weeks. As a result, half of the face appears droopy, with one-sided smiles and the affected eye resisting closure.

    Also known as acute peripheral facial palsy of unknown origin, Bell’s palsy can impact anyone, and its exact cause is still unknown. However, experts believe that swelling and inflammation of the nerve responsible for controlling the muscles on one side of the face may be the cause, possibly caused by a reaction to a viral infection.

    Fortunately, Bell’s palsy symptoms usually improve within a few weeks, with full recovery occurring in approximately six months. However, a few individuals may continue to experience symptoms for life. It is crucial to note that while rare, Bell’s palsy can occur more than once.

  • Symptoms


    Bell’s palsy symptoms might include the following and appear suddenly:
    On one side of your face, you could suddenly get modest weakness that develops into complete paralysis within hours or days.
    Face drooping and the inability to make facial gestures like smiling or closing your eyes.
    On the affected side, pain in the jaw area, in the ear, or behind the ear, sound sensitivity on the affected side is increased.
    A decline in taste
    Alterations in the quantity of saliva and tears you produce

    In rare cases, Bell’s palsy can sporadically damage the facial nerves on both sides of your face.

  • When to see a doctor


    Seek medical help immediately if you experience paralysis because you may be having a stroke. A stroke does not cause Bell’s palsy but can cause similar symptoms. If you experience facial weakness or drooping, it is essential to consult with a healthcare provider to determine the cause and severity of the condition.

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  • Causes


    Although the precise cause of Bell’s palsy is unknown, viral infections are frequently linked. Viruses that cause the following conditions have been related to Bell’s palsy:
    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)

    On its way to the face, the nerve that regulates facial muscles travels through a constrained space in the bone. That nerve becomes inflamed and swollen in Bell’s palsy, which is typically brought on by a viral infection. The nerve also affects taste, saliva, tears, and a tiny bone in the middle of the ear and face muscles.

  • Risk factors


    Bell’s palsy is more commonly observed in individuals with specific conditions such as pregnancy, particularly in the third trimester or within the first week after childbirth. Those with upper respiratory infections like the flu or common cold, diabetes, high blood pressure, or obesity are at higher risk of developing Bell’s palsy.

    Recurrent attacks of Bell’s palsy are rare. But when they recur, there’s often a family history of recurrent seizures. This suggests that Bell’s palsy might be related to your genes.

  • Prevention


    Bell’s palsy is a condition that causes sudden weakness or paralysis of the muscles on one side of the face. While the exact cause is unknown, there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing Bell’s palsy. Maintaining good overall health, including getting enough sleep, exercise, and a healthy diet, can help boost your immune system, which may help prevent Bell’s palsy. Additionally, avoiding contact with people who have cold sores or other viral infections may also reduce your risk. Finally, reducing stress through relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga may also help prevent Bell’s palsy.

  • *Please note that the information provided in the article is for reference purposes only. It is essential to consult a doctor before applying any of the suggestions mentioned.

Content Details

Medical info from Mayo Clinic, for reference only. Visit Hoan My for better advice.

Last updated on: 07/08/2023