Bell’s palsy, also known as facial palsy, is a condition that causes sudden and temporary weakness or paralysis of the facial muscles, which results in an inability to control the muscles on the affected side of the face.
What is Bell’s Palsy?
Bell’s palsy, also known as facial palsy, is a condition that causes
sudden and temporary weakness or paralysis of the facial
muscles, which results in an inability to control the muscles on the
affected side of the face. The affected side of the face droops or
becomes stiff. The affected person’s smile is one-sided, and the
eyelids on that side resist closing.
Symptoms of Bells Palsy
● Sudden weakness or paralysis on one side of the face.
● Facial droop.
● Difficulty making facial expressions on the affected side, like
closing the eyelids or smiling or frowning.
● Facial muscles twitching.
● Decreased sensation of taste.
● Difficulty chewing.
What Causes Bell’s Palsy?
The exact cause is still unknown, but the incidence of Bell’s palsy
is related to exposure to a viral infection, which causes
inflammation of the facial nerve.
Infections that are believed to cause it are:
● Herpes simplex, which causes cold sore and genital herpes.
● Herpes zoster virus that causes chickenpox and shingles.
● Epstein-Barr virus, which is the cause of infectious
● Infection caused by cytomegalovirus.
● HIV (human immunodeficiency virus).
Bell’s palsy can affect people of any age and gender. It has been
noted that the people with the following conditions are more
● Diabetic patients.
● Pregnant women, especially during the third trimester and a week
● People suffering from an infection of the upper respiratory tract,
like cold and flu.
● And people suffering from any viral infection.
Complications of Bell’s Palsy
● The facial nerve gets damaged irreversibly.
● Synkinesis - It is the involuntary contraction of muscles when you
are trying to move some other muscles.
● Because of the inability to close the eyelids, the eye becomes dry.
Partial or complete blindness results due to this dryness and
scratching of the cornea.
Diagnosis of Bell’s Palsy
There are no confirmatory or diagnostic tests which can tell you for
sure if you have Bell’s palsy. Your doctor, through various physical
examination, will determine if you have facial palsy only after he or
she has ruled out all the other possible conditions that can cause
these symptoms like a brain tumor, stroke, Ramsay Hunt syndrome,
myasthenia gravis, and Lyme disease.
Other tests like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerized
tomography (CT) can be used to rule out any pressure caused due to
a tumor or skull fracture impinging on the facial nerve. Nerve
conduction study (NCS) is used to confirm the presence of nerve
damage and its severity.
Treatment Options for Bell’s Palsy
● Medications - Anti-inflammatory medicine like corticosteroids
(Prednisone) are prescribed.
● Physical Therapy - To prevent the paralyzed muscle from
shrinking, a physical therapist teaches massages and exercises of
the facial muscles. This may also include electrostimulation of
facial nerve, however, the results of this procedure are unclear.
● Surgery - In very rare and severe cases, decompression surgery is
done to relieve the pressure on the facial nerve.
How to Differentiate Bell’s Palsy from Stroke?
If you experience paralysis (loss of sensation), seek medical attention
immediately, as it can be a sign of stroke. Bell’s palsy causes similar
symptoms to a stroke, so it is crucial to differentiate between the two.
If your facial paralysis is due to a stroke, it will also affect the arms or
legs of that side.
This article was originally published in www.icliniq.com @ 25-1-2019 --->>