How to Trace the Symptoms of Bell’s Palsy

Bells palsy is a sudden condition. It descends over night, with the patient feeling heaviness and stiffness in the affected part of the face. Within a couple of days from its onset, it takes over completely and prohibits any muscle movement in the affected half of the face. Before the patient would be able to trace the symptoms of bells palsy, it would have already taken over you.

Bells palsy can be a traumatic experience for the patient who may suffer from associated troubles ranging from severe headaches, dizziness to blurred speech. Symptoms of bells palsy would include abnormal blinking, impaired sense of taste and facial distortion. Patients cannot close, blink, squeeze or cry with the eye of the affected side which remains open all the time. Even during sleep.

Bells palsy is the condition where the facial nerves which control the facial expressions and sensations inflame, in turn paralysing the face. 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.

Symptoms of bells palsy are not prolonged. The suddenness of bells palsy is its characteristic trait. If your facial paralysis has given you prolonged symptoms and is not the result of an overnight condition, then it cannot be termed as bells palsy. Such a condition would need extra medical attention and the doctor may prescribe additional CT scans and MRIs. Facial paralysis can be a result of stroke, Lyme disease, a tumour etc. These additional tests would help ascertain the exact cause of the facial paralysis and whether it is due to bells palsy.

Bells palsy does not require excessive medication or treatment but it does require special care and other precautionary measures that would help protect the affected sense organs, like the affected eye. Prescribed facial exercises, massages and intake of steroids have been found to be extremely effective in reducing the swelling of the facial nerve. Recovery period is ranges from a couple of weeks to months. It also depends of the patient’s will power, support from family and friends, and the body’s recovery time.

Overnight symptoms of bells palsy may include:

  • Sudden stiffness behind the ear
  • Heaviness in the face
  • Inability to close the eyes
  • Sagging eyebrows
  • Droopy smile

Within 48 hours of experiencing the first 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. The doctor shall diagnose the ailment by examining the patient for any signs of Lyme disease, tumour, stroke, Ramsay Hunt Syndrome etc. If no particular cause is identified for the facial paralysis it is termed as bells palsy.

Once the patient has been diagnosed with bells palsy he may be prescribed with steroids and mild facial exercises. These can include trying to wrinkle your nose, trying to smile, blink the eye, frown etc. Massage of the face and the surrounding area is also known to help. The idea behind this is not to gain instant mobility of the muscles but to make sure that the muscles are being used.

With due care and precautionary measures, the inflamed nerve would gradually heal, enabling facial muscle movement. Bells palsy is a temporary phase and in most of the cases has been found to be healed completely.

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