Neuro Sciences

Facial Nerve Paralysis (Bell’s Palsy)

Facial Nerve Paralysis (Bell’s Palsy)
Best Hospital for Facial Palsy treatmetn in Hyderabad
What Is Bell’s Palsy?

The term Bell’s palsy generally refers to weakness of the facial muscles, mainly resulting from temporary or permanent damage to the facial nerve.Damage to the Bell’s palsy that controls muscles on one side of the face causes that side of your face to droop. The nerve damage may also affect your sense of taste and how you make tears and saliva. This condition comes on suddenly, often overnight, and usually gets better on its own within a few weeks.

When a facial nerve is either non-functioning or missing, the muscles in the face do not receive the necessary signals in order to function properly. This results in paralysis of the affected part of the face, which can affect movement of the eye(s) and/or the mouth, as well as other areas.But sudden weakness that occurs on one side of your face should be checked by a doctor right away to rule out these more serious causes.

What causes Facial palsy?

The cause of Facial palsy is not clear. Most cases are thought to be caused by the herpes virus that causes cold sores. In most cases of Facial palsy, the nerve that controls muscles on one side of the face is damaged by inflammation.

Many health problems can cause weakness or paralysis of the face. If a specific reason cannot be found for the weakness, the condition is called Facial palsy.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of facial palsy include:

  • Difficulty in closing the eye, so, the eye on affected side may look bigger.
  • Difficulty in frowning, leading to absence of wrinkles over forehead on the affected side.
  • Difficulty in blowing out cheeks (air leaks out on the affected side).
  • Difficulty in chewing food, food may get stuck within the mouth on the affected side.
  • Facial asymmetry, face may seem to get pulled to the normal side.
  • Loss of taste on the affected side.
  • Headache or facial pain on the affected side.
How does facial palsy start?
Symptoms of facial palsy starts suddenly over hours, so, it is very alarming for the patient. At the onset, patient may have pain behind the ear, in the neck, or the head on the side of paralysis. Symptoms are very minor in the beginning, so, they often get noticed first by others or may be noticed on looking into a mirror.
What should be done, if one suspects facial palsy?
There is no need to panic, as it is a benign condition, and often improves. One should first consult their family physician or GP and subsequently a neurologist. Care should be taken to avoid any dirt entering the eye (as it can not be properly closed) to prevent corneal (a part of eye) infection.
What are the causes of facial palsy?
Bell’s falsy is idiopathic (no definite cause has been idetified). However, research has shown that it is often caused by viral infections such as herpes simplex. Facial palsy is more common in people with diabetes mellitus and in pregnant women. Patients with facial palsy often give a history of exposure to cold prior to the onset of symptoms (such as direct exposure of AC wind, going out at night or early morning, or long road journey with open windows), but their role in causing facial palsy has not been proven.
Other causes of facial palsy may include brain stroke (decreased blood supply to brain), tumors, other infections, trauma, infections of ear, etc.

How is Facial palsy diagnosed?

Neuro doctor will diagnose Facial palsy by asking you questions, such as about how your symptoms developed. Doctor will also give you a physical and neurological exam to check facial nerve function.

If the cause of your symptoms is not clear, patient may need other tests, such as blood tests, an MRI, or a CT scan.

What causes facial palsy?

Although the most commonly known cause of facial paralysis is Bell’s palsy, there are actually many different causes of facial palsy, and treatment and prognosis vary greatly depending on the cause. Some of the main causes of facial palsy are listed below:

  • Viral infections such as Bell’s palsy and Ramsay Hunt syndrome.
  • Surgical causes: for example during removal of acoustic neuroma or facial nerve tumour, or when operating on the parotid gland.
  • Bacterial causes such as Lyme disease or following a middle ear infection
  • Traumatic injury such as fractures to the brain, skull or face.
  • Birth trauma: for example caused by forceps or facial presentation delivery.
  • Congenital conditions such as an abnormal development of the facial nerve or muscle in the womb.
  • Rare genetic syndromes such as Moebius syndrome or CHARGE syndrome.
  • Stroke: although a stroke can cause facial palsy it is slightly different in that the problems are not caused by direct damage to the facial nerve. The paralysis in this case is caused by brain damage and the messages not being transferred properly to the facial nerve.

What functions do the facial muscles perform?

  • Raising the eyebrows
  • Closing the eye
  • Frowning
  • Open mouth smiling
  • Closed mouth smiling
  • Pouting
  • Lifting top lip.
  • Pulling lower lip down
  • Sticking bottom lip out
  • Pulling jaw and corners of mouth gently down
  • Wrinkling nose

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