Palsy means a weakness or
paralysis. Bell's palsy is named for Sir Charles
Bell, a 19th century Scottish surgeon who was the
first to describe the condition.
Bell's palsy results
from upper respiratory infections, viral
infections such as those caused by infectious
mononucleosis, herpes, mumps, HIV viruses, and
bacterial infections such as Lyme Disease.
Facial weakness from Bell's palsy is due to
the facial nerve which is a nerve that
controls the muscles on the side of the face
and it a form of peripheral neuropathy.
Bell's palsy occurs when the nerve that controls
facial muscles on one side of the face becomes
swollen or inflamed. When this occurs, the function of the
facial nerve is disrupted, causing an interruption
in the messages the nerves send to the facial
muscles. This interruption results in facial
weakness or paralysis.
Generally, Bell's palsy affects only one of the facial nerves and one side of the face,
however, in rare cases, it can affect both sides.
Each facial motor nerve directs the muscles on one side
of the face, including those that control eye
blinking and closing, and facial expressions such as
smiling and frowning. Additionally, these nerves
carry nerve impulses to the lacrimal or
tear glands, the saliva glands, and the muscles of a
small bone in the middle of the ear called the stapes.
The facial nerve also transmits taste sensations
from the tongue.
Thus, damage to the facial motor
nerve that controls muscles on one side of the face
causes that side of the face to droop. The nerve
damage may also affect the sense of taste and how the
body makes tears and saliva. It can make
the face feel stiff and the smile one-sided and the
eye resists closing.
Bell's palsy is not the result of a stroke
or transient ischemic attack (TIA). While they both
can cause facial paralysis, there is no link between
Bell's palsy and either of these conditions.
Bell's palsy can affect anyone, but rarely affects
people under the age of 15 or over the age of 60.
For most people, Bell's palsy symptoms improve
within a few weeks, with complete recovery in three to
six months. About 10 percent will experience a
recurrence of Bell's palsy, sometimes on the other
side of the face. A small number of people continue to
have some Bell's palsy signs and symptoms for life.
What can you do?
Bell's Palsy comes from damage to the facial
nerve. It is a form of neuropathy and can be addressed
as neuropathy (nerve damage).
For more information on Neuropathy
and what to do.
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