Bell’s palsy is a sudden episode of facial paralysis due to dysfunction of the seventh cranial nerve, typically occurring on one side of the face. Bell’s palsy itself is not dangerous and will normally resolve itself in time; however, it is distressing, can be painful, and often keeps the eye on the affected side from closing, which can cause other issues.
All symptoms of Bell’s palsy typically manifest on the same side of the face as the paralysis. Symptoms can include:
- Inability to close one eye
- Loss of sensation on one side of the face
- Difficulty moving one side of the face
- Loss of taste on the front of the tongue
- Increased sensitivity to sound in one ear
It is not known exactly what causes Bell’s palsy, but it is thought inflammation of the facial nerve plays a role. This is supported by the fact that people with certain disorders or infections that cause inflammation (e.g., Lyme disease and Guillain-Barré syndrome) are more likely to experience Bell’s palsy.
Anyone can be afflicted with Bell’s palsy, but it does occur in some individuals more than others. Those at higher risk include:
- Pregnant women
- People with diabetes
- People who have contracted certain infections
- People who have conditions that damage nerves, such as direct injuries or multiple sclerosis
How is Bell’s palsy diagnosed and treated?
Bell’s palsy is diagnosed based on symptoms reported to your doctor along with an in-office physical examination. Your doctor can usually diagnose the symptoms of Bell’s palsy without further testing, although your doctor may order blood or imaging tests to rule out stroke and to ensure there are no serious underlying causes to your symptoms.
Bell’s palsy is treated by first addressing any underlying issues that may have caused it (elevated blood pressure, infections, etc.). Bell’s palsy itself is not generally treated directly, but your doctor may recommend steps to alleviate symptoms and reduce risk to the eyes during the time the issue takes to resolve. These treatments can include:
- Pain relief medications
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Physical therapy
- Eye drops or ointment
- Moist heat (for pain relief)
Why Choose NGPG?
NGPG Neuroscience employs a team of board-certified neurologists, neurosurgeons, neurointerventional surgeons, neuropsychiatrists, and other specialists who provide high-quality care and up-to-date treatments through our two outpatient Neurology office locations. For imaging and surgical care, we partner with the Northeast Georgia Medical Center’s, ensuring our patients’ access to all of the services of a leading hospital alongside our excellent outpatient care.
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