Bell's Palsy

By: Lizzy Melton

What is Bell's Palsy?

  • Bell's Palsy is a disease that temporarily weakens or paralyzes the muscles on one side of the face.
  • Bell's Palsy occurs as a result to damage or trauma to the 7th cranial nerve, an important nerve in normal facial function.
  • Doctor's can often diagnosis Bell's Palsy be the appearance of a patient's face. However, sometimes MRI's or CT scan's are conducted to make sure the facial paralysis is not from something else.
  • Bell's Palsy is not common. Only about 40,000 people develop it a year.

Symptoms

Symptoms of Bell's Palsy Include:

  • Twitching, weakness or stiffness of one side of the face
  • Half of the face drooping
  • Trouble closing one eye
  • Difficulty speaking, eating, or drinking
  • Headache
  • Loss of taste in affected part of the tongue
  • Changes in the amount of salvia in the mouth
  • Pain in one ear
  • Hearing sounds louder in one ear

Causes of Bell's Palsy

  • The exact causes of Bell's Palsy are unknown. Doctor's think the cause could be anything that irritates the face.
  • The disease can occur in kids, teen, and adults.
  • Pregnant women as well as people who live near wood areas and have contracted lyme disease are more susceptible to Bell's Palsy.
  • Injury, the flu, diabetes, ear infections, and the herpes simplex may increase the likelihood of Bell's Palsy.
  • There is no known genetic link to contraction of the disease.

What's Going Wrong in the Nervous System

When the 7th Cranial Nerve is damaged, the facial nerve swells up and presses against the narrow bone tubes, in which the impulses from the brain to the facial muscles travel. The nerve is squashed and it cannot send impulses to the muscles in the face, the salivary glands, and the tongue.

Treatment

  • Steroids such as prednisone are used to reduce inflammation and swelling in order to allow impulses to resume regularly to the facial muscles.
  • Antiviral drugs sometimes are used to shorten the length of the disease by getting rid of any viral infections that may be causing the inflammation.
  • Lubricating drops and eye patches are sometimes used when the eye is exposed because of the patient's inability to close it.
  • Acupuncture, physical therapy, or facial massages sometimes provide small improvement in nerve function and pain.

Prognosis

  • Prognosis for Bell's Palsy is generally good, unless severe damage was done to the facial nerves.
  • With or without treatment most people tend to get better within 2 weeks after the initial offset.
  • Some or all facial function is restored in 3 to 6 months.
  • While people are dealing with the disease, they might be embarrassed about how they look and in some cases are unable to drink from a straw. Other than that they are fully functional.

Famous People with Bell's Palsy

  • Sylvester Stallone
  • Katie Holmes
  • George Clooney

Work Cited

  • "Bell's Palsy." KidsHealth - the Web's Most Visited Site about Children's Health. The Nemours Foundation, n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2016.
  • "Neurological Disorder Resources." Neurological Disorders. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2016
  • "NINDS Bell's Palsy Information Page." Bell's Palsy Information Page: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2016