Wednesday, May 14, 2014

What is a Bell's Palsy?

When I found out that a friend of mine was diagnosed with mild Bell’s Palsy, my first response was “huh?” what is that? I honestly do not have any idea about it.

I Googled and learned that Bell’s Palsy is actually a form of temporary facial paralysis resulting from a dysfunction or damage of the facial nerve.

Also called the 7th cranial nerve, it travels through the skull in a narrow bone canal beneath the ear, to the muscles on each side of the face. These facial nerves control a lot of functions such as the blinking and closing of the eyes, smiling, frowning, lacrimation, raising eyebrows, etc. 

The Symptoms

When the function of the facial nerves is disrupted, interruption in the messages the brain sends to the facial muscles occur, thus causing a facial weakness or paralysis. A person may have the disorder if he/she exhibits either or some of the symptoms like facial tingling, moderate or severe headache/neck pain, drooping of the eyelid and corner of the mouth, drooling, dryness if the eye or mouth, impairment of taste, excessive tearing of the eyes, impaired speech, difficulty eating or drinking, etc.

The Causes

It is believed by most of the scientists that a viral infection causes Bell’s palsy, such as viral meningitis, varicella zoster virus, or the common cold viruses of the herpes family. It is also associated with influenza, chronic middle ear infection, high blood pressure, diabetes, tumors and trauma such as the skull or facial injury. 

The Treatment

Mild Bell’s palsy, such as what my friend have, does not require treatment, because accordingly the symptoms usually recede on their own within two (2) weeks. While, for others that are not so mild, may have medications, physiotherapy, surgery or other alternative medicine.

Overall, a person diagnosed with Bell’s palsy have a very good prognosis. Because with or without  treatment, a person with the disorder begins to get better within 2 weeks, after the initial start of the symptoms and can recover completely within 3 to 6 months. Though some the symptoms may last longer depending on the extent of damage of the facial nerves. 

Knowing the information above, I am relieved that my friend J will recover soon.