We know that the first thought for many patients experiencing bell’s palsy is that dropping on one side of your face means you’ve suffered a stroke. The sudden onset of bell’s palsy symptoms can be extremely alarming; your face may droop on one side, your mouth and eyelid might droop too. Sometimes you’ll feel pain, and most of the time you’ll feel like you can’t control one side of your face, that’s really scary. Bell’s palsy is a stressful condition to have as it impacts your looks as well as your ability to function. In this blog post, we’ll talk about symptoms and causes of bell’s palsy as well as treatment options.
There is no link between bell’s palsy and strokes or transient ischemic attacks. However, if you experience sudden weakness on one side of your face, blurred vision, and/or slurred speech, please stop reading this and seek emergency medical care immediately!
So you’ve gone to the doctor, and you know you haven’t suffered a stroke, now what? Well, bell’s palsy is really consistent regarding symptoms. It’s paralysis and/or weakness on one side of your face that can cause visible drooping of your facial features. You might lose the ability to blink, furrow your brow, raise your eyebrows, smile or frown. Bell’s palsy symptoms can also include:
- Inability to blink
- Uncontrollable tearing in one eye
- Loss of taste
- Facial twitching
- Pain in or behind your ear and jaw
- Numbness on one side of your face
- Increased sensitivity to sound
- Ringing in one or both ears
- Impaired speech
- Trouble eating or drinking
Bell’s palsy happens when the nerve that controls your facial muscles becomes swollen, inflamed, or compressed. While the exact cause of bell’s palsy isn’t known, some scientists believe that viral meningitis or herpes simplex (cold sore virus) could cause it. Bell’s palsy has also been associated with the flu virus, chronic ear infections, hypertension (high blood pressure), trauma, as well as chronic conditions like diabetes.
For many people, the symptoms of bell’s palsy take up to 48-hours to reach their peak and up to 6-months to go away without any medical treatment. But, for other people, symptoms can become permanent or semi-permanent, this happens when the paralyzed face muscles shrink and shorten. A qualified physiotherapist can help manage bell’s palsy with techniques like:
- Facial exercises
- Dry needling
Treating Bell’s Palsy at Home
In between physiotherapy appointments you can help ease symptoms of bell’s palsy at home. Using moist heat like MediBeads or even a warm washcloth several times a day can relieve pain and improve circulation. You can also prevent muscle waste, ease pain and maintain your facial tone by using electrical stimulation at home with a TENS unit. Your physiotherapist can show you how best to use these home remedies and individualized exercises as part of your treatment plan.
If you’re experiencing bell’s palsy symptoms, seek an assessment from a qualified physiotherapist near you. Reduce your recovery time and symptoms.