- Bell’s palsy is a neurological disorder that causes sudden weakness in the facial muscles.
- This condition can cause paralysis and distortions to the face, making one half of the face appear droopy.
- In this blog, the ENT doctors at AOC discuss the various treatment options available for patients with Bell’s palsy.
Bell’s palsy is a debilitating, yet temporary condition that causes partial paralysis to muscles in the face. Also known as facial palsy, this condition can occur to people of all ages. Currently, there is no known cause of Bell’s palsy, but experts believe the condition develops from swelling and inflammation that compresses facial nerves. Bell’s palsy may also be a reaction from viral infections, such as herpes simplex (cold sores and genital herpes), chickenpox, shingles, measles, mumps, rubella, mononucleosis, the flu, and cytomegalovirus infections.
Bell’s palsy has some pretty telltale signs and symptoms, including partial facial paralysis. Still, there are other symptoms that can indicate the presence of this condition:
- Facial dropping that causes the eye to close and lips to frown when smiling.
- Uncontrollable drooling
- Persistent headache
- Pain around the jaw or ear
- Sensitivity to sound and taste
- Changes in tear and saliva production
It’s important for patients to understand that Bell’s palsy is not caused by a stroke. Therefore, if facial paralysis develops with other symptoms such as shortness of breath, slurred speech, a headache, and more, patients should seek immediate medical attention.
While there is no known cause of Bell’s palsy, there are risk factors associated with the condition. Researchers have found that women who are pregnant and in their third trimester may experience Bell’s palsy. Other risk factors include having diabetes or an upper respiratory infection.
The good news is, most people recover from Bell’s palsy with or without treatment. Nevertheless, a physician at AOC may suggest treatment to speed up the patient’s recovery. Treatment options may include corticosteroids and antiviral medications to help reduce inflammation and combat underlying diseases. Physical therapy may also be recommended to help prevent permanent contractures that can occur from shrunken muscles.
Rarely, plastic surgery may be suggested to patients with lasting damage from Bell’s palsy. If this is the case for you, an AOC physician will refer a physician he or she thinks will do an outstanding job. In the end, patients can rest assured knowing this is condition is usually temporary (lasting about six months), and that there are treatment options available.
Arizona Otolaryngology Consultants (AOC) is a comprehensive ENT clinic that provides care for all diseases of the ears, nose, throat, and sinuses. The physicians at AOC have the highest level of training and expertise in ENT care and ENT subspecialty care, which includes the management of pediatric airway, cancer, skull base surgery, advanced head and neck surgical and reconstructive procedures, craniofacial surgery and more. Call 602-264-4834 to request an appointment today!
The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.