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Bell’s palsy is a condition that affects movement of the muscles in the face. The muscles are affected by damage to the seventh cranial nerve controlling them. Significant damage of this nerve can result in paralysis of the face. Swelling or inflammation of this nerve can also cause Bell’s palsy. Although the condition can affect people of any age, it is seen more in people between the ages of 16 and 60. Bell’s palsy is named after the Scottish anatomist Charles Bell, who was the first to describe the condition.
Symptom of Bell’s palsy may appear following a cold, ear infection, or eye infection. The symptoms usually appear rapidly, and you might notice them upon waking or when trying to eat or drink. Bell’s palsy is marked by a droopy appearance on one side of the face and the inability to open or close your eye on the affected side. In rare cases, Bell’s palsy may affect both sides of your face.
Other signs and symptoms of Bell’s palsy include:
If you develop any of the symptoms of Bell’s palsy, seek medical attention immediately. Never self-diagnose Bell’s palsy, as the symptoms can mimic other conditions such as stroke, Lyme disease, and cranial tumor.
Although Bell’s palsy affects the seventh cranial nerve, experts are not sure why this happens. Many think that a viral infection is the most likely cause of the condition.
The following conditions might play a role in the development of Bell’s palsy:
Your physician will use a variety of tests to determine whether you have Bell’s palsy. He or she will order blood tests to check for the presence of a bacterial or viral infection. Your doctor might also use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or a computed tomography (CT) scan to check the nerves in your face. He or she will also ask you questions about when your symptoms were first noticed in addition to giving you a physical examination to see the extent of the weakness in your facial muscles.
In most cases, Bell’s palsy symptoms improve without treatment. However, it can take several weeks or months for the muscles in your face to regain their normal strength following an episode of Bell’s palsy.
The following treatments may aid in your recovery.
Your risk for developing Bell’s palsy increases if you have diabetes, are pregnant, have a lung infection, or have a genetic predisposition to it.
Complications of Bell’s palsy include:
There are no known ways to prevent the development of Bell’s palsy.
Written by: April Khan and Marijane Leonard
Published on: Aug 29, 2017on: Aug 29, 2017
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