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Bell's Palsy - What Can Cause It?

Reviewed by
Dr. Dhruv Zutshi 89% (15 ratings)
MBBS Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, MD - General Medicine, DM - Neurology
Neurologist, Delhi  •  11 years experience
 Bell's Palsy - What Can Cause It?

Bell’s palsy is a neurological condition that results in a temporary paralysis of the facial muscles. This paralysis or muscle weakness occurs when the cranial nerve responsible for controlling the facial muscles become compressed, swollen or inflamed. When this happens one side of the face may become stiff or can droop. You may experience trouble laughing, smiling or closing the eye located on the side of the face that has become affected.

Most often the condition of Bell’s palsy is temporary that will go away in a few days to a few weeks time. People between the age group of 16 and 60 years are at a risk of developing Bell’s palsy. The exact reasons why the cranial nerve becomes inflamed is not known but medical experts widely believe that it is because of viral infections.

Viruses that are sometimes instrumental behind causing Bell’s palsy are:

  1. HIV
  2. Herpes simplex
  3. Herpes Zoster Virus
  4. Lyme Disease
  5. Epstein-Barr Virus
  6. Sarcoidosis

Symptoms of Bell’s palsy can start to show up in a week or two’s time after you have developed an ear, eye or cold infection. The symptoms can occur all of a sudden and you will see them occurring usually in the morning. Generally, Bell’s palsy affects only one side of the face but it can also affect both sides. Aside from the stiffness of the facial muscles other symptoms of Bell’s palsy are:

  1. Trouble with either drinking or eating.
  2. Trouble with facial expressions
  3. Sudden twitching movements.
  4. Headaches
  5. Extreme sensitive to sound
  6. Eye irritation on the side(s) involved.
  7. Dryness of the eyes and mouth.

A Bell’s palsy condition can become risky if the person suffering from it is pregnant, has diabetes, has a pre-existing lung infection and also has a family medical history of this condition.
Most often a Bell’s palsy condition will improve on its own without requiring any treatment in a few days to few weeks time. But it can take many weeks for the facial muscles to recover their previous strength for muscle functioning.

The kinds of medications that can aid in speeding up the recovery process are:

  • Corticosteroids that help to lower the swelling and or the inflammation.
  • Antibacterials or antivirals to tackle the virus or the bacteria that may have been the reason behind your Bell’s palsy case.
  • Certain over-the-counter drugs that can help in providing temporary relief.
  • Some eye drops to deal with the eye dryness.

Some home remedies that can also be duly adopted are:

  1. Using a towel soaked in warm water to put on your face and get temporary relief from the pain.
  2. A facial massage.
  3. An eye patch.
  4. Therapy for stimulating the facial muscles.
In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!
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