Bells palsy is a neurological disorder in which the facial nerve (Cranial nerve VII) is damaged and the functions of the nerve get impaired or paralyzed and most of the time the facial paralysis is temporary. Bells palsy is a single nerve disorder and in Bells palsy the functions of the Cranial nerve VII such as smiling, blinking, salivation, secretion of lacrimal gland and raising the eyebrows are impaired. The affected part of the face will be paralyzed for sometime and the functions are returned to normal in a short period of time.
The causes for the pathogenesis of Bells palsy are Lyme’s disease pathogen, viral meningitis, Herpes-Zoster virus, human simplex virus and Epstein-Barr virus. Some of the environmental toxins, stress, accidental injuries and metabolic disorders can cause Bells palsy by affecting the seventh cranial nerve.
- Inability to control facial activities
- Inability to control facial muscles
- Inability to smile
- Inability to control laughing and crying.
Differential diagnosis is required to identify the exact cause of Bells palsy and to rule out the other viral causes and its complications. Hence, clinical and physical examinations are to be correlated with the signs and symptoms of the Bells palsy patients and the physician should follow the diagnosis of exclusion to confirm the disorder.
The treatment for Bells palsy patients are corticosteroids such as prednisone until the patient recovers from the problems and then antiviral therapy is prescribed to eliminate the Herpes and Varicella Zoster virus. It is important to prevent the remission of the viral attack, which can cause recurrent facial palsy attacks. These can improve Bells palsy and the patient can recover from Bells palsy symptoms soon. If not, physical therapy exercises such as muscle re-education and soft tissue-specific exercises for the Bells palsy patients are prescribed and it is found to be beneficial in some patients.
The prognosis of Bells palsy is often very good with medical treatment support. But the prognosis of Bells Palsy depends on the degree of nerve damage and in some Bells palsy patients the problem will go without any medical treatment or with a short-term treatment of 2–3 weeks. In some Bells palsy patients, a total cure is evident after a treatment period of half a year and episodic relapse is very uncommon.
There is no specific prevention procedure; but some of the causes are Herpes infection and Lyme’s diseases are preventable and hence if you prevent the underlying medical conditions, you can prevent the incidence of this disorder.
When to see a doctor
If you experience abnormal and involuntary facial reactions and if you are unable to control the facial muscles or if you feel the facial muscle is paralyzed or if these symptoms exist or worsen even after you took the medicines, you need to consult the doctor immediately.