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Bell’s Palsy, Is It Serious Like Brain Stroke?

Bell’s paralysis is a form of facial muscle weakness (paresis) or paralysis, typically on one side of the face. It results from dysfunction of the facial nerve, also known as the 7th cranial nerve.

The facial nerve has many small branches and it plays diverse functions. For Bell’s palsy treatment contact Pro Physio at home in Bangalore.

It controls Bell’s palsy is a form of facial muscle weakness (paresis) or paralysis, typically on one side of the muscles of facial expression, including those involved in the blinking of an eye and closing; it carries nerve impulses to salivary glands, tears glands, and conveys taste sensations from the anterior 2/3 of the tongue. On each side of the face, there are two facial nerves, one on each side.

Typically, only one nerve on each side, and hence one side of the face, is suffered. The nonfunction of the facial nerve is thought to be the result of its inflammation or irritation. The swollen (inflammation) nerve is compressed as it exits out the skull within a narrow bony canal.

Symptoms develop suddenly, usually within2/3 days, and can range from mild weakness (paresis) to total paralysis of facial muscles. Some other symptoms may include drooling, drooping of mouth, inability to close one eye, facial pain or abnormal sensation, intolerance to loud noise & distorted sense of taste.

By definition, Bell’s palsy is idiopathic, meaning it has an unknown cause, but it has been associated with viral infections. Mainly, reactivation of a dormant virus, triggered by trauma, stress, or minor illness, is often thought to be the cause.
Risk factors include hypertension, diabetes, pregnancy, obesity, and upper respiratory infections.

Diagnosis of facial palsy is based on clinical features after other possible causes of facial palsy are excluded.
Patients usually present with the very rapid development of clinical symptoms, reaching a peak in severity around ( 3 days) 72 hours from the time of onset.

In most cases, facial muscle weakness can be observed with both upper and lower facial muscles, including the mouth, forehead, & eyelid.
If the strength of the forehead muscles is not affected, a central cause, especially brain stroke, should be suspected. This is because the upper facial muscles, unlike the lower ones, receive nerve impulses from both the right and left hemispheres of the brain, so a lesion on one side will not affect the function of the upper facial muscles.

To confirm nerve damage and determine the extent of severity an electromyography test can be done. Imaging studies can help rule out structural causes, such as a skull fracture or a tumor.

Because Bell’s palsy affects the eyelid’s ability to blink & close, the affected eye is exposed to drying and potential injury from outside. Patients must use lubricating eye drops to keep the eye moist, and protect the eye from injury with an eye patch, especially at night time.

Without treatment also, Bell’s palsy improves spontaneously in about two-thirds of patients. Symptoms usually start to improve after a week to few weeks and completely recovered in about 6 months. Corticosteroids, if started early, can control inflammation and improve the condition.

Patients get benefits from physical therapy like electrical stimulation, facial strengthening exercises, or facial massage. Decompression surgery to relieve pressure on the nerve is rarely needed and not usually recommended. Severe Bell’s palsy cases may take a long time to improve.

A few patients with complete paralysis may continue to have some permanent symptoms for life. To get better results always contact your physiotherapist. Pro Physiotherapy– physio at home in Bangalore gives assured treatment for bell’s palsy.

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