What Causes Bell’s Palsy?

To perfectly diagnose any medical ailment, it is mandatory for the patient and the patient’s family to be completely aware of it. One of the ailments, where patients lack complete understanding is bells palsy, which is often confused with stroke. Knowing what causes bells palsy enables a faster recovery process for the patient and also decreases the physical and psychological trauma that he experiences during the phase.

Bells palsy is the condition where the facial nerves which control the facial expressions and sensations inflame, in turn paralysing the face. There are two facial nerves that run through the human face, one for each hemisphere. These facial nerves are located inside a narrow canal which travels from behind the ear. Inflammation in one of the two nerves causes bells palsy, rendering the affected part insensitive to touch or any sensation. When the bone canal inflames, it compresses the nerve. This also results in bells palsy.

The most prominent cause of bells palsy has been found to be the virus Herpes Simplex 1. This virus is responsible for what is commonly called fever blisters or cold sores. A vast percentage of the population is already affected by the virus before the age of 20. The virus however lies dormant most of the time in the human body and surfaces as cold sores. However, it can also irritate the facial nerve and cause bells palsy which occurs over night.

Since reasons and tests to ascertain what causes bells palsy are not very well known. An elimination diagnosis is performed by the doctor to ascertain if the patient is suffering from bells palsy. The doctor may prescribe tests and scans that would help him analyse whether the patient has suffered a stroke, or if the paralysis attack is due to a tumour or Lyme disease. When no particular cause can be ascertained, the patient is diagnosed with bells palsy.

Although bells palsy is not life threatening, it does traumatise the patient physically and psychologically who may be unable to come to terms with the tragedy. The condition develops overnight and is too sudden for the patient to get familiar with.

On maximum occasions, it is self cured since it is caused by an inflamed nerve. As the swelling reduces, the nerve begins to transmit signals to the facial muscles which respond accordingly.  Any negligence in treatment can lead to impaired sense organs. Special care need to be taken for the patients affected eye and his sensitive ear. Lack of proper care and medical attention may lead to catastrophes like a damaged cornea.

There are no specific set of symptoms which can be traced over time, helping you to predict the onset of bells palsy, since it is a sudden attack. Apart from the virus Herpes Simplex, little is known of what causes bells palsy. However, studies and statistics reveal that the frequency of its occurrence is more in pregnant women, diabetes patients and those infected with Lyme disease. This list is however not exhaustive. Bells palsy is neither restricted to an age group nor sex linked.

Since an exhaustive list of what causes bells palsy is not available, an extensive research programme is being carried out around the globe, in renowned institutions to understand what causes bells palsy more minutely. Methods and drugs are being developed to reduce the damage and injury that is done to the nerve during the ailment. This methodology will help reduce the residuals effects of the ailment. In some cases post recovery, parts of the face still do not respond to sensation. New advancements would help heal the residuals completely.

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