What is Bell’s Palsy?

To know what is bells palsy disease one must first know that there are two facial nerves that run through the human face, one for each hemisphere. They travel from the brain stem to the brain. It exits the brain in a narrow bone canal behind each ear. Facial nerves control the facial expressions, sensations, smile, crying, blinking etc. An inflammation, compression or any trauma in any of the two nerves causes paralysis of the respective half of the face.

How bells palsy is caused and what is bells palsy disease has been the topic of discussion for scientists and doctors alike for many years. Bells palsy occurs overnight and is too sudden for the patient to get accustomed to. The friends and family are generally unaware of the traumatized mental state of the patient who is unable to do the smallest of things like smiling or blinking.

The most common cause of bells palsy to have been traced is 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.

Stress levels have been known to have an inverse relationship with the body’s immunity levels. An increase in the stress levels decreases the immunity levels of the body making it more susceptible to diseases and attacks from virus like the Herpes Simplex 1 which is responsible for causing the inflammation of the facial nerves leading to bells palsy.

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 is bells palsy disease. Bells palsy is neither restricted to an age group nor sex linked. 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.

What is bells palsy disease can be understood more clearly by examining its symptoms. Overnight signs and symptoms of bells palsy may include sudden stiffness behind the ear, heaviness in the face, inability to close the eyes, sagging eyebrows and droopy smile. Within a couple of days from experiencing the first signs and symptoms of bells palsy, the patient will be unable to control any muscular movement of the affected half of the face.

On seeing the first signs of stiffness the patient should immediately consult the doctor without any delay for correct diagnosis of the paralysis. Only a correct diagnosis can ensure speedy recovery. 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 analyze whether the patient has suffered a stroke, or if the paralysis attack is due to a tumor or Lyme disease. When no particular cause can be ascertained, the patient is diagnosed with bells palsy.

Since bells palsy is caused by an inflammation, treatment of bells palsy includes dosage of steroids that reduce swelling. Anti-viral medicines are also advised since they would help treat the virus Herpes Simplex 1, which is known to cause the inflammation in maximum number of cases.  In very rare cases a surgery may be conducted.

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