Bell’s palsy is a facial nerve disorder. When the nerve that controls the movement of facial muscles becomes inflamed and swollen and one’s face feels stiff, that condition is known as Bell’s palsy.
Bell’s palsy which is a kind of facial paralysis occurs suddenly. Damage to this nerve usually causes paralysis to one side of facial muscles. The affected person cannot use the muscles at all. The eye resist to close, half of the face appears to sink and even the smile becomes one sided.
Anyone can get affected by Bell’s palsy, but statistic suggests that it rarely attacks a person under the age of fifteen and people over sixty. People in 40’s are more likely to get affected by this nerve disorder. In most of the cases, Bell’s palsy patients recover completely within three to six months, but symptoms start to disappear within few weeks.
Very few people experience recurrence of Bell’s palsy and that too usually on the other side of the face. However, some people may continue to have some symptoms of Bell’s palsy during their entire lifetime, but this kind of case is very rare.
Bell’s palsy can be a scary experience for someone who doesn’t know about it, as it appears suddenly with symptoms that make them think that they are having stroke. But actually symptoms of stroke are quite different than that of Bell’s palsy and these symptoms usually clears up automatically.
Common Symptoms of Bell’s Palsy
Symptom may appear suddenly and are generally one sided. But they can be mild or severe. They may take 2-3 days to show up completely. If you are affected with Bell’s palsy, you may feel mild weakness or complete paralysis on one side of your face, which will not allow closing your eye or making it difficult for you to smile.
Your face will look different as if it is pulling from side. You may feel weakness, stiffness in muscles and facial pain and pain inside and behind your ear and around the jaw. Other symptoms include:
• Difficulty in drinking and eating food
• Drooling while eating or drinking or otherwise also due to lack of control over facial muscles
• Difficulty in closing one eye
• Difficulty in making facial expressions like smiling or talking
• Twitching in the face
• Dry eye and mouth, no tears comes from the affected eye
• Absence or lack of taste
• Sensitivity to noise in the affected ear increases
• Heaviness and numbness in face
The exact cause that makes people suffer from Bell’s palsy is not yet known, but most researches assume that viral infection affects the facial nerve and causes swelling and inflammation. Some researchers have found the presence of virus (Herpes simplex 1) that causes cold sores, but no direct link has been established to it yet.
In minor cases there can be complication like permanent but mild facial paralysis that continues for lifetime. Most people recover completely within few weeks or months. In one percent cases, in which people do not recover completely, they may have symptoms like abnormal blinking, drooling liquid from mouth, distorted smile and speech, corneal damage, dry eye and impaired taste.
There is no specific test recommended to diagnose Bell’s palsy. Diagnosis is made based on symptoms and physical examination. Person suffering from Bell’s palsy need to protect his/her eye as it remains open.