Suffering From Bell's Palsy Affects Facial Muscles

Sep 16, 2021

Bell's palsy is a condition that causes weakness or paralysis on one side of the face. The affected person usually notices that their facial muscles are drooping, including those around the eye, mouth, and tongue. The condition often lasts for several months to even years after it starts. The condition affects about one in every 5,000 people each year. It is more commonly found in women who are between 20 and 40 years of age.

Three out of four individuals who have Bell's palsy will recover to normal or near-normal ability within two months to two years after the onset of the condition. However, 24% will have mild to moderate effects that can last longer. This article will describe the causes and symptoms of Bell's palsy and how it affects facial muscles. It will also summarize treatments used to treat this disease.

Causes Bell's Palsy

There are several issues which can cause Bell’s Palsy in people. Some of them include: 

  • Stress - An individual with Bell's palsy tends to get the condition after a severe bout of stress. This can be physical or emotional, such as a major life change, such as the death of a loved one, divorce, or job relocation.
  • Trauma - Bell's palsy is sometimes caused by a head injury. When this happens, there typically is sudden damage to one or more of the cranial nerves in the brain. A common cause of Bell's palsy in children is when they get the condition after an insect bite or infection in their ear canal. It is also common for Bell's palsy to develop after a viral illness.
  • Ear Infection - Infections of the ear or nasal passages can cause inflammation in or outside the ear. This can then travel into the facial nerve and cause Bell's palsy. A common cause of Bell's palsy in children is when they get the condition after an insect bite or infection in their ear canal. Rarely, Bell's palsy is caused by tumors that form in the head or neck area.

Signs and Symptoms

The first sign that an individual has Bell's palsy is usually a sudden loss of facial movement. This is because the facial nerve that moves facial muscles to help with normal function has been affected. The affected person may feel slight pain along the side of their face. This is especially common in the eyelids and within one or both temples.

The affected person may experience swelling in or around one or both eyes, in addition to a feeling of tenderness over the cheek, temple, and even in the ear canal. They may also feel a burning sensation and tenderness in the ear itself. The condition is often accompanied by sensitivity to light and slight pain along the side of the face.

A person with Bell's palsy may only notice that one eye is affected. The eyelids may be droopy, and their eyes may appear squinted. The muscles around the eye may appear to tend to move inward.

Treating Bell's Palsy

There’s several things which can be done for people suffering from Bell’s Palsy. Most people with Bell's palsy will regain normal vision over two to four weeks. If it appears that the vision will be impaired for a long period, then an eye test may be considered.

Most individuals who get Bell's palsy also get hearing loss. The facial nerve controls both speech and hearing, so the individual may lose speaking when damaged. An individual may need a hearing test to determine if they will have any possible future problems with speech or hearing.

Most individuals who get Bell's palsy can regain movement of their affected facial muscles over two to four weeks. If the condition is severe and the individual cannot move their muscles, they may need to be treated with physical therapy.

For people who have Bell's palsy, regular eye exams can be vital to their health. A yearly eye exam can check for possible progression of the disease and detect signs of complications such as glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration.

Bell's palsy usually affects people in their 30s and 40s, although it can occur at any age. While some recover for several months and others take longer, the condition rarely causes permanent damage. With treatment and patience, most people who get Bell's palsy will eventually regain some function of their facial muscles.

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