Facial paralysis or Bell’s Palsy causes a sudden, temporary weakness in the facial muscles that makes a face appear to droop. The patient is no longer able to move the facial muscles that are responsible for vital functions such as speaking, eating, or closing the eyes. The smile becomes one-sided, and the eye on that side resists closing.
Who Gets Bell’s palsy?
The exact cause of Bell’s palsy is unknown. However, it is believed to be the result of inflammation or swelling of the facial nerve. Sometimes, it also occurs as a reaction after the viral infection. Further, it may be caused by stroke, trauma, or tumors.
Usually, Bell’s palsy is a non-life-threatening condition that resolves within a few weeks. Though the chances increase with advancing age, it can happen to people of any age group. It is slightly more common in the menstruating females.
How is Bell’s palsy Diagnosed?
There isn’t any test that can tell you for sure if you have Bell’s palsy. However, your doctor need would perform laboratory testing for thyroid function, hepatitis, and Lyme disease. These tests are done to ensure that there is no other cause of facial paralysis than Bell’s palsy.
Facial paralysis and Bell’s palsy are rare, as well as complex conditions. Therefore, you need to consult a physician or a surgeon who has the expertise and knowledge to perform the necessary tests. The different types of testing for Bell’s palsy include:
Computerized tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can be used to point out the sources of pressure on the facial nerves.
MRI test of the auditory canal and brain evaluates acoustic neuroma or other types of tumors. And, CT scan of the temporal bone and neck evaluates trauma.
An EMG is used to measure the electrical activity of a muscle in response to the speed and nature of the electrical impulses. It is done to confirm the presence and severity of nerve damage.
Besides these tests, an ENT specialist examines the patient for an inner ear infection or head tumor. This test is also helpful to resolve dizziness associated with Bell’s palsy. The hearing test determines whether a person has suffered from hearing damage. Further, Vestibular test checks whether the nerve balance is intact.
What Are The Treatment Options For Bell’s palsy?
If you are suffering from Bell’s palsy, your doctor may suggest physical therapy and medications to speed the recovery. In more complex conditions, facial surgery is also an option.
In many cases of facial nerve weakness, doctors prescribe oral steroids. The most commonly used medicines for treating Bell’s palsy include Antiviral drugs and Anti-inflammatory drugs (Corticosteroids).
If paralysis has been present for 14 days or left, talk to your physician about seeing an Otologist. He may perform ENOG (electroneurography) that determines if you have a facial decompression.
If the meantime, your doctor may ask you to take extra care of the eye on the affected side. You may undergo a small procedure in which a metallic weight will be inserted into your upper eyelid. It provides aid in eye closure.
Paralyzed muscles often shorten or shrink, causing permanent contractures. A therapist teaches you how to massage and exercise the facial muscles to prevent the paralysis from occurring again.
Many of the patients who require surgery to remove tumors may have permanent facial decompression. However, most of the patients facing Bell’s palsy have complete recovery. In order to recover from the symptoms, rapid diagnosis, and treatment is necessary.