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Anytime one has a disorder of the nervous system, they are usually quite anxious. After all, the nervous system relays signals to and from the spinal cord and brain to all the other parts of the body. If it's not working right, all kinds of things can go haywire. One of these disorders is Bell's Palsy. Here's what you need to know about this nervous system condition:
What Is Bell's Palsy?
Bell's Palsy is a condition where one-half of the muscles in the face stop working. The muscles are either paralyzed or extremely weak. This cause the facial features to droop or become very stiff and unmoving. Only one side of the face is affected, so it can be very unnerving for the sufferer to see themselves this way.
What Causes Bell's Palsy?
The facial muscles are controlled by the seventh cranial nerve, which is commonly just called the facial nerve. If this nerve becomes compressed and swells, even a little, it can cause the muscle weakness and paralysis. Many people are terrified they are having a stroke, but a stroke generally affects both sides of the body.
So what causes the nerve to swell, to begin with? Researchers believe that an underlying virus is responsible. It's possible that the same virus that causes cold sores, the herpes simplex one virus, is to blame in many cases.
What Are The Symptoms Of Bell's Palsy?
This condition tends to come on suddenly and out of nowhere, although some people report having ear pain or increased noise sensitivity prior to the paralysis. As a result of the facial muscle weakness or paralysis, your facial muscles may spasm or twitch, you may suffer from drooling as you are unable to keep your mouth completely closed, both your eyes and mouth may droop, your eyes may tear up more, and you may be unable to blink or close your eye. It may also be difficult to chew food. There may also be continued pain behind the ear.
What Is The Prognosis And Treatment For Bell's Palsy?
There isn't a specific test to determine a diagnosis of Bell's Palsy, so doctors must rule out other conditions first before settling on that diagnosis. Bell's Palsy usually resolves itself within a few weeks, although sometimes it can take a few months to completely recover. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for the condition. You may need to wear an eye patch and use eye drops to keep your eye lubricated. If the condition doesn't resolve itself after three months, your neurologist may consider surgery to relieve pressure on the nerve.
Contact a nervous system specialist for more information and assistance.