Bell’s palsy is a condition which results in the sudden weakness of the muscles in your face. This may make half of your face appear as if t is drooping. Your smile may be one-sided and the eye on the same side will resist closing.
Also known as facial palsy, Bell’s palsy can take place at any age. The exact cause of the condition is not certain, however, some experts believe that the drooping occurs due to the inflammation and swelling of the nerve that is responsible for controlling one side of the face. This may be a natural reaction due to a viral infection.
In most cases, Bell’s palsy is temporary as symptoms improve within a few weeks and the person completely recovers within 6 months. There are only a few people who may have some Bell’s palsy symptoms throughout their life. However, recurrence of the condition is very rare.
Disclaimer: this post on Bell’s palsy and its associated signs, symptoms and treatment is for learning purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage Bell’s palsy and other emergencies including stroke and transient ischemic attacks sign up for St Mark James first aid training here.
Signs and symptoms
Onset of signs and symptoms of Bell’s palsy is often very sudden and may include the following:
- Sudden onset of mild to severe symptoms – mild weakness on one side of the face to a severe total paralysis on the same side. This may occur within hours or days , thus making it difficult to the person to close the eye of the affected side or to smile
- Drooping of the face and difficulty in making different facial expressions
- Pain around the jaw of the affected side or behind the ear
- Increased sensitivity to sound from the ear on the affected side
- Changes in the amount of saliva or tears produced
- Decreased taste
One in rare cases does Bell’s palsy affect both sides of the faces.
When to seek medical attention
Emergency medical help must be sough is you have any type of paralysis as it may be a sign of stroke. It is important to note that Bell’s palsy does not occur due to stroke.
See your doctor if you experience symptoms of Bell’s palsy such as facial drooping or weakness to find out the underlying cause and severity of the condition.
The following are home treatment methods for the symptoms of Bell’s palsy:
- Protect the eye that does not close. Use over-the-counter lubricating eye drops or artificial tears during the day and an eye ointment at night in order to keep the affected eye moist. Make sure you wear goggles or glasses in the daytime and an eye patch at night to prevent your eye from getting scratched or poked.
- Take over-the-counter pain medication. You can take aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce pain
- Apply damp heat. You can use a washcloth soaked in warm water for this purpose. Apply it on your face several times a day to alleviate pain.
- Perform physical therapy exercises. Exercise and massage your face regularly according to your physical therapist’s directions in order to relax the muscles in your face.
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