Bell's Palsy

Dr. Roberto Irawan at Golden Bamboo Acupuncture can treat Bell's Palsy.
Bell's palsy is a disorder of the facial nerves that can cause temporary or permanent facial paralysis. It usually affects one side of the face, and may be caused by a viral infection that causes the facial nerves to swell or become inflamed. In most cases, Bell's palsy is a temporary condition, with symptoms improving within a few weeks. However, in rare cases, some people may experience permanent muscle weakness or other muscle related problems on the affected side of the face.

Causes of Bell's Palsy

Bell's palsy is caused by an inflammation of the facial nerve, usually caused by a viral infection. When inflamed, the surrounding bones place pressure on the nerves that control facial muscles. Bell's palsy may be caused by viruses including the same ones that cause herpes, chickenpox, respiratory illnesses, measles, mumps, flu and mononucleosis.

Symptoms of Bell's Palsy

People with Bell's palsy may experience a sudden paralysis or weakness of one side of the face, as well as other symptoms that may include:

  • Drooping of the face
  • Difficulty making facial expressions
  • Pain in the ear
  • Twitching
  • Headache

Besides the facial muscles, Bell's palsy may affect tear and saliva production, taste, and the nerves in the middle ear. Symptoms may last from a few weeks to a few months and in rare cases, they may be permanent. Most cases will go away within a few months, often with no medical treatment.

Diagnosis of Bell's Palsy

To diagnose Bell's palsy, the doctor will perform a physical examination and review of all symptoms. Facial movements will also be observed. Additional tests may also be performed, including:

  • Electromyography
  • MRI scan
  • CT scan

These tests may be administered to detect nerve damage, or rule out other conditions.

Treatment of Bell's Palsy

Many people recover from Bell's palsy without any treatment. In some cases medication may be prescribed, such as corticosteroids to reduce inflammation or antiviral drugs to fight the underlying viral infection. If the eye is affected, lubricating eye drops may be used to keep the eye moist. Physical therapy may also help the affected muscles. Surgery to relieve pressure on the nerve is also possible, but is not recommended and rarely needed.

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