I visited a neighbor yesterday and discovered that she had Bell’s Palsy. It is not a complex disease to diagnose. On the way home, my wife asked me several questions about Bell’s Palsy (BP) and could not answer any of them. The woman’s husband had BP twenty-five years ago, and one of my brothers had BP many years ago. However, I never thought to spend a few minutes and learn more about it.
Bell’s Palsy Overview
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bells-palsy/symptoms-causes/syc-20370028. Overnight, half your facial muscles can droop, and you have no control over them. The lips and the eyes are most noticeable. You cannot smile, and sometimes it is difficult, if not impossible, to fully close your eyelids.
Technically, BP is known as idiopathic facial palsy resulting from dysfunction of cranial nerve VII. This nerve impulses the tear and saliva glands and the muscles of the small bone in the middle ear. Taste receptors in the tongue are occasionally impacted.
https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Bells-Palsy-Fact-Sheet. Most sources I checked say that scientists do not know what causes BP. Some think that it is virus-related – maybe herpes simplex (cold sores/genital herpes), herpes zoster (chickenpox/shingles), Epstein-Barr (mononucleosis), cytomegalovirus, adenovirus, rubella, mumps virus, influenza B, coxsackievirus, and maybe others. Autoimmune issues are thought to be the cause in some circles.
One of the first things that came to my mind is the mass vaccination for COVID-19. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/underlying-conditions.html. Officially, the FDA observed BP during COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials. It was dismissed because the occurrence was no more significant than would be expected in general. My neighbor recently had two doses of the coronavirus vaccine. Overall, around 40,000 people contract BP annually in the United States.
When a family member has BP, it is possible to see a genetic link to others in the family. High blood pressure, diabetes, and pregnancy (mostly third trimester) are thought to stimulate an attack of BP. Most of the time, BP affects people between their mid-teens and 60 years of age, and it is rare to contract the disease more than once. So many potential causes and nothing truly definitive.
https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/5457-bells-palsy. Facial drooping over half the face is most common. Drooling, headaches, jaw pain, loss of taste, increased sensitivity to sound, difficulty eating or drinking, speaking issues, excess tears, and saliva are normal. These symptoms can happen in a few hours or over a couple of days. Rarely does BP affect both sides of the face.
It is critical to see your doctor as quickly as possible to determine the difference between BP and a stroke. The symptoms are similar. A stroke does not cause BP but can impact your health more severely. Left untreated, when the inflammation recedes, all nerve functions return to normal.
Eighty percent of those with BP recover fully within a month, although some patients might take up to six months to see a full recovery. The other twenty percent have a higher risk of longer-term facial paralysis. The severity of BP affects the recovery time.
Treatment for BP
https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/bells-palsy Your eye is your first concern if you think you might have BP. Protect the eye from drying out by covering it and using eye drops. When you cannot close your eye entirely, damage to the cornea can occur during sleep.
Doctors typically prescribe steroids to reduce inflammation and analgesics to address pain. Some physicians may treat BP with antiviral medication such as acyclovir. It is not uncommon to have physical therapy to stimulate the facial nerve.
Alternative treatments include relaxation therapy, acupuncture, electrical stimulation, biofeedback, and specific vitamins (B-12, B6, and zinc).
Bell’s Palsy occurs randomly with no known cause. It is treatable. Severe health damage can occur when left untreated. It is crucial to see a doctor to determine that you may have had a stroke and that different treatment is needed.
It is not something to ignore. Additionally, the prognosis is that most people recover fully without any health issues. I stated earlier, I knew the disease, but nothing other than a person having a bit of facial paralysis. When I could not answer a single question my wife asked me about it I decided it was time to write about it. I am certain there are others also in need of this information.
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