Bell’s Palsy is a condition that causes movement-related weakness or paralysis of facial muscles. The cause behind the state is the inflammation, swelling, and compression of the CN VII nerve, which controls the muscles’ expressions and motor functionalities.(2)
An individual suffering from the condition shows signs of droop to one side of the face. In a rare instance, Bell’s Palsy occurs on both sides and may lead to paralysis. In such cases, the individual faces difficulty showing expressions, smiling, closing and opening eyes, and often drooling. The positive news is that the sickness is temporary, and recovery starts within three weeks from the occurrence.(2)
The occurrence is sudden, and one may find the symptoms when they wake up from the bed. They cannot control the muscles and fail to control tear and saliva production. In a few cases, there is a loss of taste. Many think the episode as a stroke. But, if it only affects the face, then it is Bell’s Palsy. Experts term Bell’s Palsy as a rare disorder with only one in every 5,000 people developing the condition.(1)
Is It Possible To Prevent Bell’s Palsy?
Currently, there are no specific ways to determine the occurrence of Bell’s Palsy. Therefore, there is no indication of the different ways that help in preventing the condition. However, the symptoms disappear within three weeks, and there is an 80% complete recovery rate. Only in some instances, the healing requires about six to nine months.(3*)
Does Bell’s Palsy Reoccur?
The percentage of reoccurrence of Bell’s Palsy is between 4 and 14%. However, a source suggests that the recurrence rate stands at 7%. The chances are that the recurrence occurs on the same side of the previous episode or the opposite side. Additionally, the recurrence occurs only in those with a family history of recurrent Bell’s Palsy. Although there were high rates recorded previously, causing the increase is due to an underlying etiology. Due to this, doctors eliminate the need for diagnosing Bell’s Palsy, a form of the idiopathic disease.(4)
The Symptoms Of The Condition
The CN VII nerve has many functions to carry out. Therefore, damage to the nerve disrupts several activities that it controls. The signs of the ailment vary from one person to another. Furthermore, the severity ranges from mild to severe, along with weakness and occurrence of paralysis. The noticeable symptom is the sudden weakness on one side of the face. Addition warning signs include:
- Drooping of the mouth
- Inability to close eye causing dryness
- Excessive tearing
Apart from these, individuals can develop abnormal sensations, facial pain, altered taste senses, and intolerance towards the sound. These are the common factors that lead to face distortion.(3*)
What Causes Bell’s Palsy?
The CN VII nerve passes through the narrow fallopian tube along with additional fibers. The brain sends signals through the tissues and the CN VII nerve. When there is an inflammation, the nerve compresses against the fallopian tube wall, blocking the signal transmission from the brain.
Such a situation develops weakness and leads to paralysis in some individuals. The exact reason for the occurrence is unclear. However, the following are a few reasons why it occurs:
- The herpes virus that inflames the CN VII nerve
- Cold sores virus
- Shingles and chickenpox virus
- Mumps virus
- Influenza B
- Epstein-Barr virus(1*)
Risk Factors For Bell’s Palsy
After consistent research, experts established a few risk factors associated with Bell’s Palsy. Investigation shows that there is a connection between facial weakness and migraine. According to a study in 2015, individuals diagnosed with migraines possess a high chance of developing Bell’s Palsy. Additionally, it affects:
- People above 15 years and below 60 years of age
- Individuals who have diabetes and upper respiratory ailments
- Pregnant women
- The effect of the symptoms is equal among both men and women.(1*)
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