Facial Palsy is also known as Bell's Palsy that is caused by the weakness of the facial muscles. This leads to a drooping face. It is believed to be the result of swelling and inflammation of the facial nerve. The facial nerve controls the muscles of expression on the face. Most of the times, Bells palsy is temporary with complete recovery within six months.
- Risk factors
- Pregnancy, especially during the last trimester can cause Bells Palsy
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- Viral Infections like Influenza, Infectious mononucleosis
- HIV, Herpes Zoster and Herpes Simplex infection
- Neurological disorders such as Guillain-Barre syndrome, multiple sclerosis, and neurosarcoidosis
- Tumoursthat can lead to facial nerve compression
- Symptoms to look out for
- Difficulty in making facial expressions such as frowning and smiling
- Rapid onset of weakness or total paralysis of one side of the face
- Drooping of the upper eyelid, Weakness of the eyelid muscles, Inability to close eye and on attempting to close the eyes, the eyeballs turn up and out
- Asymmetrical face
- Dryness of eyes
- Muscle twitches of the face
- Drooling of the saliva
- Bells palsy is diagnosed on a clinical examination. Your doctor would look at your face and ask you to move your facial muscles by closing your eyes, frowning, lifting your eyebrows, whistling, showing your teeth.
- To rule out serious causes that can lead to weakness of the facial muscles your doctor may advise a CT or MRI scan of the brain.
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- An Electromyography is sometimes advised to check for the presence of nerve damage and its severity.
If you have been diagnosed withBells Palsy, it is important to take some steps to avoid recurrence.
Most people usually recover completely with or without medications. But, the doctor may prescribe medications like the following:
- Corticosteroids likePrednisolone
- Anti-viral medications
- Pain medications for pain relief
- Physiotherapy is advised in most of the cases.
- In some cases, your doctor may advise a nerve decompression surgery to relieve pressure on the facial nerve.
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- Lifestyle Modification
There are some lifestyle steps that you can take to prevent Facial Palsy.
- Protect your eyes by wearing glasses. Use lubricating eye drops if the eyes become dry.
- Take a diet rich in B vitamins
- Do regular exercises of the facial muscles as advised. Active facial movements are encouraged when there is a return of some movement to the facial muscles.
- Blindness due to excessive dryness and damage to the cornea
- Irreversible damage to the facial nerve leading to permanent paralysis of the facial muscles.
Article by Dr.Vighnesh Y, M.D (Internal Medicine, Dip. Rheumatology)
Consultant Physician, CallHealth