What is Bell's palsy & is it treatable?
Bells Palsy is a disorder in which the seventh cranial nerve (facial) becomes inflammed or traumatized. You have twelve pairs of cranial nerves that originate from the base of the brain. This causes unilateral (one sided) facial paralysis, but in rare cases bilateral (on both sides) paralysis can occur. A common sign is when one corner of the mouth droops down. This disorder is a self limiting one, full recovery of the nerve usually takes place in a couple of days. Rarely, recovery may take up to two weeks. Nerves regenerate themselves after trauma or injury.
There are no true predisposing factors to Bells palsy but older people contract it more than others. Immunocompromise may also play a role in susceptibility. Statistically, people with diabetes mellitus are afflicted more than others. There is no treatment for the disorder other than time.
There are nerves that control facial movement. When someone has Bells Palsy, the nerve that controls facial movement has become swollen. This occurs on one side of the face. Bells Palsy can last anywhere from a few weeks to six months and most people make a full recovery. Bells Palsy is usually caused by the herpes simplex virus which causes the facial nerve to become swollen.
Bells Palsy goes away on its own but certain medications can speed up the process. These medication are corticosteroids and anti-viral medications. Sometimes physical therapy is also used to treat Bells Palsy.