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Bell’s Palsy Causes And Treatments

Woman examining her face in mirror

Bell’s Palsy is a curious example of something that can leave you worried about a larger problem manifesting when it truth it is a much smaller one. The symptoms of Bell’s Palsy frequently leave people wondering if they’ve had a stroke. That’s due to one side of the face becoming paralyzed or weaker than the other and causing a clear discrepancy. However, the difference is that this tends to fade and muscles return to normal within a relatively short space of time. Permanent damage is fairly rare. A scare from Bell’s Palsy is enough for many of us to wonder what the causes are so that we can avoid them and how to treat the problem if it does turn up. We have a decent understanding of the condition and as a result, there are fairly clear answers to those question. Let’s take a close look at those answers to ensure that we’re all better prepared to deal with the problem when it turns up and has been properly identified by a doctor.

Identifying the Problem
The most obvious visual cues that you’re dealing with Bell’s Palsy are the clear drooping or inability to move part of the face. You can generally rest easy if that kind of weakness and paralysis aren’t turning up in other places around the body as that is a sure sign you’re not having a stroke. There are other signs though. The early manifestations of the conditions include difficult blinking, eye watering, and twitching of the facial muscles. There are some that report there being a clear pain directly behind their ear, but some report numbness instead. All of these can also be accompanied by difficulty with the mouth such as drooling, trouble chewing, and sometimes even a decreased ability to taste. What tends to be the clearest sign you’re dealing with Bell’s Palsy is that all of these will generally be isolated to one side of the face or another. These extra symptoms typically start anywhere from one to three days before the muscle paralysis or weakness fully settles in.

Why It Happens
As you might expect with this sort of condition, doctors are fairly certain that it comes back to a form of nerve damage. Current evidence suggests that it is specifically damaging to the facial nerve. That damage, in turn, leads to inflammation and swelling of the nerve as part of the body’s natural response process. Unfortunately, that applies pressure that in turn causes issues with the nerve impulses. How that initial damage happens tends to vary though. The current dominant theories tend to associate Bell’s Palsy with diabetes and viral infections. What exactly causes damage from those sources isn’t entirely known but does appear to be responsible much of the time. It is worth noting here that cold sores can be a warning sign that Bell’s Palsy is a risk factor as the virus responsible, herpes simplex 1, has been linked to a large number of cases in the past. Staying healthy in general means you’ll have a lower risk of experiencing Bell’s Palsy.

Treatment Options
There aren’t any treatments available for Bell’s Palsy that can immediately relieve effects. Once a doctor has determined you have it, you’ll generally be given various symptomatic treatments in the hopes of alleviating the problems surrounding it. In the instance of paralysis or weakness making you unable to blink on one side, your doctor will have take steps to safeguard the eye. An eyepatch and eye drops tend to be common in this case to help protect it and keep it moisturized. Any doctor who believes a virus is responsible will likely prescribe appropriate drugs to help eliminate the virus as quickly as possible so that the inflammation and swelling can decrease. You may be given instructions on how to massage the muscles on your face to help try to reduce the issues as well. It is worth noting that sometimes injected medications or surgery can also be used. All you can do beyond these treatments is wait for the worst of it to pass.

Bell’s Palsy is a frustrating thing to deal with once you get past the initial shock. All that you can really do is wait it out and see how much it heals. The good news is that most people will recover from the experience within three to four months and be no worse off. Anyone with longer lasting symptoms or who does not make a full recovery can discuss further options with their doctor. In the end, it is simply one of those things we must accept as a risk of living.

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