Bell’s palsy is a sudden onset of facial muscle weakness or paralysis. It is a type of cranial neuropathy that affects the 7th cranial nerve, also known as the facial nerve, which controls the muscles of the face. It is a form of peripheral neuropathy that affects only one side of the face. The cause of Bell’s Palsy is not fully understood, but it is thought to be caused by inflammation of the facial nerve as a result of viral infection, such as herpes simplex or varicella-zoster virus, or due to other types of infections, stress, and other unknown causes.
Symptoms of Bell’s palsy typically develop quickly, over a period of hours or days, and can include:
- Sudden weakness or complete paralysis on one side of the face
- Drooping of the mouth or eyelid on one side
- Loss of ability to make facial expressions
- Difficulty closing the eye on the affected side
- Increased sensitivity to sound in one ear
Diagnosis of Bell’s Palsy typically made by a physical examination and through an evaluation of the patient’s symptoms. In some cases, an MRI or CT scan may be done to rule out other causes of facial weakness.
Treatment for Bell’s palsy typically includes a combination of:
- Corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and swelling of the facial nerve
- Antiviral medication if a viral infection is suspected
- Physical therapy to help regain muscle strength and improve facial function
- Pain medication for discomfort
- Eye care to protect the eye on the affected side, such as using an eye patch or artificial tears
It is important to note that the majority of people with Bell’s palsy will recover without any long-term problems, but in some cases, some degree of facial weakness may persist.
To discuss examination and treatment options, please book an appointment with our GPs.
To learn more about Bell`s palsy, Please click on https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/neck-pain-and-stiff-neck/
Dr Ibrahim Yahli MD MRCPsych