Nervous System

Bell's Palsy

Bell's palsy:
It is a form of temporary facial paralysis or weakness on one side of the face, resulting from inflammation of the seventh cranial nerve (the facial nerve) and causes a malfunction of the nerve that directs the muscles on one side of the face, including those that control the eyelashes. The facial nerve also carries nerve impulses to the lacrimal glands and salivary glands. The nerve also transmits taste sensations from the tongue.

The cause of Bell's palsy is not known, as swelling and inflammation of the seventh nerve appear in people who have it, and most scientists believe that a reactivation of a viral (dormant) infection may cause this disorder, most often the herpes simplex virus (HSV), which is the same virus that causes Cold sores and genital herpes. Other viruses can also cause this case, including herpes zoster, cytomegalovirus, and Epstein-Barr virus.
The facial nerve swells and becomes inflamed in response to infection, causing swelling of the nerve and squeezing through a narrow canal surrounded by bone (the bony canal through which the nerve travels to the side of the face), restricting the delivery of blood and oxygen to nerve cells and interfering with the ability of the nerve to connect with the muscles Several other conditions can also cause facial paralysis:

  • Brain tumor.
  • brain attack.
  • Myasthenia gravis.
  • Lyme disease.

Risk factors:

  • Age from 15 to 45 years.
  • Family history.
  • Pregnancy and pre-eclampsia.
  • Obesity.
  • Hypertension.
  • diabetes.
  • Diseases of the upper respiratory tract.

Symptoms of Bell's palsy vary from person to person and range in severity from mild weakness to complete paralysis, as symptoms appear suddenly over a period of 48-72 hours, and symptoms include:

  • Sudden weakness on one side of the face (most common).
  • Mouth drooping and drooling.
  • Inability to close one eye (causing dry eyes) and excessive tearing in one eye.
  • Headache.
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Facial pain or abnormal sensation.
  • Loss of taste at the front of the tongue.

When to see a doctor:
When you notice complete weakness or paralysis on one side of the face, which develops rapidly within 72 hours (eg: drooping eyelids, mouth, etc.), as it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible after the appearance of these symptoms; This is because treatment for Bell's palsy is most effective if started early (within 72 hours).

As for the injured, you should see a doctor when you notice:

  • Symptoms that do not improve within three months.
  • Chronic eye irritation.
  • Inability to close the eyelid.
  • Dehydration due to difficulty drinking and swallowing.
  • hearing loss.

Bell's palsy is diagnosed based on physical examination and symptoms. Usually, no other tests are needed but one or more of these tests may be done:

  • Blood tests.
  • Electromyography, to measure nerve activity and damage.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography.

There is no cure for Bell's palsy, but treatment can help you recover faster, especially if you start it within the first few days.

  • Steroid medications, which are prescribed by a doctor, are effective and can increase the possibility of restoring facial nerve function. In most cases, they should be started by mouth within 72 hours of the onset of symptoms if possible; To increase the likelihood of a good functional recovery of the face.
  • Painkillers (such as: aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen) may relieve pain, because of possible drug interactions. Always talk to a doctor before taking any over-the-counter medications.
  • Another important factor in treatment is eye protection, so eye drops, and eye ointment are prescribed to stop the dryness of the affected eye; Bell's palsy impedes the natural ability of the eyelid to blink, leaving the eye vulnerable to irritation and dryness, so it is important to maintain and protect the eye's moisture.
  • Medical tape to keep eyes closed at bedtime.
  • Other treatments, for example, physiotherapy, facial massage, or acupuncture.
  • Some cases may need to be treated with surgery.

Bell's palsy usually cannot be prevented because it is likely to be caused by infection and may be related to the herpes virus.

Guidelines for people with Bell's palsy:

  • Protect the eye from dehydration and injury, especially at night.
  • Maintain eye moisture by applying eye drops or eye ointments.

Last Update : 20 August 2023 09:42 AM
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