Bell’s palsy is a medical condition in which the facial muscles of one side become weak and paralyze. It occurs due to swelling or inflammation of the nerve that controls the muscles on one side of the face. Many people often worry about how do you get Bell’s palsy and about how long it takes to recover from Bell’s palsy. This article aims to throw light on these concerns.
How Do You Get Bell’s Palsy?
Bell’s palsy is a common condition and the precise cause of it is not clear. Hence, how do you get Bell’s palsy is a tricky question to answer. However, it is believed that Bell’s palsy often occurs after a certain viral infection. The viruses linked to Bell’s palsy are,
- Herpes zoster virus
- Epstein-Barr virus
- Herpes simplex virus
- Mumps virus
- Influenza B virus
The infected nerve gets inflamed and swollen. The passage to the face through which the nerve passes is very narrow. The nerve pushes against the skull surface, which is why the way it works gets affected. Apart from the facial muscles, the nerve also affects the tears, saliva, taste and the small bone in the middle of the ear.
When considering how do you get Bell’s palsy, it is important to understand the risk factors of getting Bell’s palsy. These include,
- Pregnant women especially one in their 3rd trimester of pregnancy or the one in their 1st week after giving birth.
- People with upper respiratory tract infection.
How Long Does It Take To Recover From Bell’s Palsy?
Before looking at the recovery from Bell’s palsy, let us understand the symptoms of it. The symptoms presented by the person suffering from Bell’s palsy are,
- Mild or rapid weakness or paralysis on one side of the face, which might occur within hours to one day
- Facial Droop
- Difficulty in making facial expressions
- Inability to close the eyelid or blink
- Difficulty in chewing
- Twitching of facial muscles
- Disturbed sense of taste
- Numbness or pain in the ear
- Changes in the production of saliva
The facial paralysis or weakness reaches its peak with a day or two of its occurrence. As Bell’s palsy affects the nerves, many people are worried about its recovery. So, how long does it take to recover from Bell’s palsy?
Bell’s palsy is known to be temporary. The symptoms start to improve within a week with a complete recovery period of 6 months. In mild cases, the symptoms might disappear within a month.
In some people, the symptoms of Bell’s palsy are seen to occur for a lifetime. Certain complication can also occur such as,
Irreversible damage to the facial nerve
Synkinesis: it is the involuntary movement of certain muscles while trying to move others. It occurs due to the abnormal regrowth of nerve fibers. For example on trying to smile the eye on the affected side close.
The blindness of the eye that is either partial or complete.
In most of the people with Bell’s palsy, treatment is not required, as the symptoms recover after a few weeks or months. In some cases, medications and physical therapy might be required. Commonly used medications to treat facial paralysis are the corticosteroids and antiviral drugs. Other alternative treatments also fasten the recovery period.
Decompression surgery for Bell’s palsy is an option, which involves the opening of the bony passage of face through which the nerve passes. Plastic surgeries are done to correct the lasting facial nerve problems.
Depending on the prompt treatment received, the recovery from Bell’s palsy may be faster. So, how long does it take to recover from Bell’s palsy also depends on the underlying cause and the treatment received, in addition to the overall health condition of the person.