Bell’s palsy is temporary paralysis or weakness of the muscles on one side of face. These muscles are controlled by the facial nerve. When the facial nerve is working properly, it carries the message from brain to the face. This message may tell an eyelid to close, one side of the mouth to smile or frown, or salivary glands to make spit.
But if the nerve swells and is compressed, these message don’t get sent correctly. This makes half of your face appear to droop. The damage may affect your sense of taste and how you make tears and saliva.
Bell’s palsy is not the result of a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA). While stroke and TIA can cause facial paralysis, there is no link between Bell’s Palsy and either of these condition.
The cause of Bell’s palsy is not clear. Most cases are thought to be caused by the herpes virus that causes cold sore. In many cases, the nerve that controls muscle on one side of the face is damaged by inflammation. Because it’s swollen, the nerve gets compressed as it passed through a small hole at the base of the skull, which causes the symptoms called Bell’s Palsy.
Bell’s Palsy may affect people of all ages, but it is most common in adult. People with diabetes and pregnant women are more likely to develop Bell’s palsy.
Signs and Symptoms
The symptoms of Bells’ Palsy usually show up about 1 to 2 weeks after a viral infection. It usually reaches its worst point within 48 hours. Some people may have headache or feel pain behind or in front of the ears a few hours or days before Bell’s Palsy fully develops.
Some people may notice a slightly weakness of face muscles on the that side, whereas some people may not able to move that side of the face at all.
Other symptoms included:
-difficulty closing one eye
-dryness in one eye
-trouble tasting at the front of tongue at the affected side
-changes in the amount of saliva or drooling
-hearing sounds that seem louder than usual in one ear
Bell’s Palsy affects only the face, so if a person has weakness or symptoms in other parts of body, the problem has another cause.
A patient may be diagnosed as Bell’s Palsy by asking some questions such as about how your symptoms developed. He/she will also give you a physical and neurological exam to chech facial nerve function.
If the causes of symptoms are not clear, blood test, MRI or CT scan may be recommended.
Most people with Bell’s Palsy may recover completely in 1 to 2 months. It needs time for nerve to renew itself. Only a small number of people who is having a permanent muscle weakness on the affected side. Some people may suggested to take corticosteroid to lower risk of long term problems from Bell’s Palsy. If a person is unable to close one eye completely, the doctor may prescribe eye drops, eye patch, and protective glasses to make a person more comfortable and prevent damage to cornea.
You also may do physiotherapy treatments to accelerate the recovery process. Physiotherapy treatments showed many successful results for patients with Bell’s Palsy. Facial exercise may keep your brain in what electrical impulses are needed to control the different muscles in your face. This will help you transition back to using facial muscles as you recover Bell’s Palsy. Blow the balloons may also help.
Electrical stimulation may also help which uses small amount amounts of electricity to activate the muscles in your face. This causes your muscles to twitch as if electrical impulses from your brain activated them.
Nur Hidayu binti Bolia
Physiotherapist e-wellness Kemaman.