Bells palsy (facial weakness)

Face | Neurology | Bells palsy (facial weakness) (Disease)


Bells palsy is a medical condition characterized by facial paralysis that results from a dysfunction of the cranial nerve VII, the facial nerve that leads to the inability to control facial muscles on the affected side. Because of malfunction of the facial nerve, which controls the muscles of the face, Bells palsy causes facial drooping on the affected half. The paralysis is of the infranuclear/lower motor neuron type.

The main symptom of Bells palsy is sudden weakness or paralysis on one side of the face that causes it to droop. This makes difficult to close the eye on the affected side of the face. Other symptoms are: drooling; eye problems, such as excessive tearing or a dry eye; loss of ability to taste; pain in or behind your ear; numbness in the affected side of your face; increased sensitivity to sound.

Causes and Risk factors

Some viruses are thought to establish a persistent or latent infection without symptoms such as the varicella-zoster virus and Epstein-Barr viruses, both of the herpes family. In acute Bell’s palsy the cause can be reactivation of an existing or dormant viral infection.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Bells palsy is a diagnosis of exclusion; by elimination of other reasonable possibilities. If the cause of your symptoms is not clear, you may need other tests, such as blood tests, an MRI, or a CT scan.

Early treatment (within 3 days after the onset) is necessary for therapy to be effective. Steroids have been shown to be effective at improving recovery while antivirals have not. Steroids, antiviral, surgery, physiotherapy are common help. ...

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