Bell’s palsy is a facial nerve disorder that can cause partial paralysis in the face and affects an estimated 40,000 people each year. Although this nerve disorder is usually temporary, it can have a devastating impact on those suffering from the condition. This disorder can occur when the 7th cranial nerve is damaged, affecting facial movement on one side of the face. Understanding the possible causes and symptoms can help those inflicted seek medical treatment quicker.
Possible Causes of Bell’s Palsy
There is not a specific cause of Bell’s palsy, but there are several precursors that seem to be linked to this nerve disorder. Several viral infections have been associated with Bell’s palsy, including Lyme disease, herpes simplex and influenza. Other possible health issues that may have an impact include stress, high blood pressure, diabetes and sarcoidosis. An injury to the facial nerve caused by trauma may also lead to Bell’s palsy.
Early Symptoms of Bell’s Palsy
In most cases, Bell’s palsy will only affect one side of the face. The magnitude of symptoms vary from a slight weakness in the facial muscles to paralysis. Some of the first symptoms that may be apparent include:
- Dryness or excessive tearing of the eye
- Corner of the mouth drooping
- Loss of taste
- Pain by the ear or jaw
- Drooping eyelid
- Difficulty speaking, eating or chewing
In most cases, the symptoms of Bell’s palsy peak at 48 hours, then begin to dissipate over the following weeks and months. Medications and therapy can be helpful for a quicker recovery. If facial paralysis persists, there are options to help normalize facial function and appearance. A facial plastic surgeon can offer treatment options, surgical and non-surgical, to help correct symmetry and facial muscle function.
Counteracting Bell’s Palsy Facial Paralysis
In severe cases of Bell’s palsy, the patient may be left with some noticeable changes to facial function. One eyelid may not close easily or a corner of the mouth may droop. If lasting effects are causing functional or aesthetic issues, Dr. Rosenberg can offer treatments or surgical procedures to help regain form and function to the affected facial areas. This can include eyelid weight surgery to help the eyelid close, a surgical lip lift or Botox injections, depending on the patient and areas impacted.
If you have lingering facial paralysis from Bell’s palsy, contact Dr. Rosenberg for a consultation to discuss treatment options. We have offices in NYC and Staten Island for your convenience.