An ailment where sudden paralysis transpires involving the facial nerves that control the muscles on one side of the face is known as Bells’ Palsy. There are no warning signs, and it can worsen within 48 hours. It results in some striking changes on the affected side. You may notice a sagging eyebrow, a drooping mouth, or an eye that won’t fully close. Though its symptoms are temporary, this condition doesn’t go right away and sometimes can be distressing as it interferes with facial expressions and the ability to sleep, eat, speak, or enjoy food. However, you must note that it isn’t life-threatening, and recovery can take a few weeks or months. (1)
Is Bell’s Palsy A Disability?
A physical examination involving test for weakness in face muscles, ability close both the eyes, smile, or whistle helps identify whether an individual has Bell’s palsy. Although the symptoms might seem terrifying, there are high chances that the individual suffering from it heals entirely within a few months. Before the facial strength returns, you will be able to taste the food properly and sleep better.
The causes of this condition aren’t clear. However, most cases are caused because of the herpes virus that causes cold sores. The facial nerve that controls the muscles on one side of the face is mostly damaged by inflammation. Common symptoms include sudden weakness or paralysis on one side of the face, drooling, dry eye, loss of ability to taste, pain behind your ear, and increased sensitivity to sound. (4)
Since this condition is short-term and does not affect your ability to execute everyday tasks, it isn’t considered a disability. However, if the disease has lasted for more than 12 months and doesn’t permit you to perform your old job, it will be deemed as a disability. (2) (3)
Can You Die From Bells’ Palsy?
Bell’s Palsy is not a life-threatening condition. In most cases, individuals are cured with/without treatment within 1 to 2 months. If the symptoms are very mild or individuals can partly move their facial muscles, recovery is faster. In severe cases, people might have lasting muscle weakness on the affected side of the face.
Those diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy are given corticosteroid medicines such as prednisone or antiviral drugs such as acyclovir for improvement. Doctors also recommend facial massage, physical therapies, or acupuncture to alleviate pain and repair facial nerve function.
Though this condition isn’t fatal, in severe cases, the following complications can occur:
- 7th cranial nerve that regulates the facial muscles is impaired, ultimately leading to the failure to show proper facial expressions.
- Excessive dryness in the eye of the affected side leading to ulcers, eye infection, or blindness.
- Synkineses, a condition where one body part induces the movement of another body part involuntarily. (4) (5)
Living With Bells’ Palsy
Primarily, if you have any symptoms of this condition, seek professional help asap. Usually, it is treated in time without any long-term complications; you need to take medications as instructed. During this condition, it is advised to protect the affected eye from drying. Thus, consulting a physician will help you understand how critical it is and how long it will tentatively take to get cured. You can try home remedies such as facial exercise, wearing an eye patch, and eating soft, smooth foods until you have this condition. Some individuals go for botox treatment or facial reconstructive surgery. (6)
Based on the facts mentioned above, we can conclude that though Bell’s Palsy does not lead to death, it can significantly impact your face’s outer appearance. In most cases, it isn’t a disability as it allows individuals to accomplish everyday tasks without any hassle. It is important to note that, if you find any symptoms of this condition, seek professional help instantly to avoid future complications. (4) (6)
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