Treatment 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.
There are two facial nerves that run through the human face, one for each hemisphere. Facial nerves control the facial expressions and sensations. These facial nerves are located inside a narrow bone canal which travels from behind the ear. An inflammation in any of the two nerves causes paralysis of the respective half of the face. If the bone canal inflames, it compresses the nerve. This also results in bells palsy.
For good results from the treatment of bells palsy, the patient should consult the doctor at the initial stages of the weakness. Any negligence on part of the patient or the patient’s family may further worsen the situation. The practitioner 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.
If the facial paralysis of a patient is a steady paralysis and not 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.
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.
During the patient’s treatment of bells palsy many precautions need to be taken for a healthy and speedy recovery. During Bells palsy the patient cannot wink or close his eyes. Not even during sleep. Eye care is one of the most important concerns during the treatment of bells palsy. Eye care should include protecting the eye from debris and keeping it moist. The tear glands produce tears and thus the eyes always appear too teary. But since muscle movement is disabled, the eye does not blink to spread the moisture evenly in the eye. In such a situation, eye drops should be used to moisten the affected eye. A cotton pad should be used to cover the eye when the patient is asleep. Also tinted glasses should be used to prevent any debris to make contact with the eye and damage the cornea.
Bells palsy also increases the patient’s sensitivity to sound. He may hear it at enhanced decibels which may increase his trauma further. Special care has to be taken to speak softly when within the patient’s hearing proximity.
Another important component of treatment of bells palsy is mild facial exercise. 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.
Although the facial nerve may heal itself with time, negligence during the treatment of bells palsy may lead to permanent damage to the sense organs, like a damaged cornea for the rest of the patient’s life. To overcome bells palsy with no physical or psychological scars, one needs to consult a doctor and treat himself accordingly.