Is Bell’s Palsy An Emergency & Is It Related To Diabetes?

Bell’s palsy involves sudden illness in your facial muscles, though not a permanent condition but recovery begins 2 weeks to six months.1

Patients with this condition expect a spontaneous interruption in the seventh cranial nerve functionality however it has to be treated immediately.2

Many cases of Bell’s palsy are causes due to diabetic angiopathy. The higher the sugar levels, the more severe the cases are.3,4

Bell’s palsy is a sudden onset of facial muscle weakness and paralysis and worsens over 48 hours. When there is damage to the facial nerve (sevenths cranial nerve), this condition occurs accompanied by pain and discomfort on one side of the face or head.

It can affect people irrespective of age and is most common in pregnant women who have preconditions such as diabetes, influenza, cold, or other respiratory issues.

Although not a permanent condition, yet in rare cases, it stays for a lifetime.

Is Bell’s Palsy An Emergency?

The cause of the condition is not known and still under investigation. Medical experts suggest that this may be due to the inflammation of the facial nerves. Bell’s palsy involves sudden illness in your facial muscles, though not a permanent condition but recovery begins 2 weeks to six months.

In a nutshell, patients with this condition expect a spontaneous interruption in the seventh cranial nerve functionality and it has to be treated immediately to relieve problems of the nerve. It is an emergency condition and the treatment should be started immediately before the paralysis worsens.1

The treatment involves the blocking of the stellate ganglion and administering corticosteroids to minimize edema and injecting nicotinic acid to achieve a widening of blood vessels. Most condition resolve within a timeline however severe cases leads to permanent disability such as residual paralysis, contracture, and others, necessitating emergency treatment.2

Is Bell’s Palsy Related To Diabetes?

Elevated levels of diabetes mellitus were noticed in several patients who were experiencing Bell’s palsy. Most of these patients were between the age of ten to nineteen and the frequency increased with an increase in age. Medical studies demonstrate that many cases of Bell’s palsy are caused due to diabetic angiopathy. The higher the sugar levels, the more severe the cases are.

Diabetes mellitus was assessed with the aid of serum glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c). When these patients had abnormal globulin, the higher the symptoms of Bell’s palsy. A high frequency of disturbances in the sensation of taste was noticed in patients who had no diabetes and only lesser frequency were noticed in diabetic patients. The results showed the relationship between Bell palsy and abnormal HbA1c. Thus, some cases of this syndrome may be perhaps diabetic mononeuropathy.

Most people are quite aware of the complications of diabetes and the nerve damage caused by the condition. However, many may not know that one of the types of diabetic nerve damage is diabetic mononeuropathy (single nerve) The single nerve could be the facial nerve losing expression, cranial nerves losing the sensation of taste and smell, or any other nerves elsewhere in the body.

But the most convincing factor is, when the condition is related to Bell’s palsy, it resolves spontaneously over time without further testing. Also, the prognosis was not worse at the 6-month follow-up visit and these patients seem to recover completely.3,4

References:

  1. David D. Cohen, M.D. “BELL’S PALSY-A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.” JAMA, American Medical Association, 6 Aug. 1960, jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/329159.
  2. Luong, Jennifer, et al. “How to Treat Bell’s Palsy.” Emergency Physicians Monthly, epmonthly.com/article/how-to-treat-bells-palsy/.
  3. Riga, Maria, et al. “The Role of Diabetes Mellitus in the Clinical Presentation and Prognosis of Bell Palsy.” American Board of Family Medicine, American Board of Family Medicine, 1 Nov. 2012, www.jabfm.org/content/25/6/819.
  4. Pecket, P, and A Schattner. “Concurrent Bell’s Palsy and Diabetes Mellitus: a Diabetic Mononeuropathy?” Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, U.S. National Library of Medicine, July 1982, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC491483/.

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