What Are the Causes, Symptoms, And Treatments Of Facial Nerve Problem (Bell’s palsy?)
Bell’s palsy is a form of facial nerve paralysis by an unknown cause. It is considered to be caused by a viral infection of a facial nerve; however, it hasn’t been proven. It is also termed as Antoni’s palsy and idiopathic facial palsy. Although, it is essential to note down that the Bell’s palsy and facial paralysis are different.
The facial nerve passes through a small gap of bone from the brain to the face, and the facial nerve dominates most of the muscles of the face and parts of the ear.
If the facial nerve is swollen, it will clasp against the cheekbone or may grasp in the small gap. This can further damage the protective covering of the nerve.
For any reason, if the protective covering of the nerve does not work correctly, the signals from the brain to the facial muscles may not be transferred properly. It leads to weak or paralyzed facial muscles.
Facial paralysis experts like Dr. Azizzadeh know the causes can sometimes be unclear, and must be diagnosed to determine proper treatment
It has been predicted when a virus, commonly the herpes virus, swell the nerve. The same virus is also the cause of cold sores and genital herpes.
Other viruses that can be linked to Bell’s palsy are chickenpox virus, genital and cold sores herpes virus, Epstein-Barr virus, mumps virus, influenza B, coxsackievirus, and others.
While the real process of facial nerve damage is unidentified, there is a possible mechanism of injury: Primary viral infection (herpes) sometime in the past.
Several types of virus live in the nerve from months to years. It becomes active, reproduces, and travels throughout the nerve results inflammation. This weakens the facial nerve, and the cure depends upon the amount of injury to the nerve.
- If the patient is pregnant.
- If any family member of the patient has suffered Bell’s palsy.
- If the patient had Bell’s palsy in the past.
- Due to Typhoid fever, tumors, Guillain-Barré syndrome or Lyme disease.
- Because of Temporal bone fracture.
The facial nerve commands smiling, blinking, opening and closing of the eyes, salivation, production of tears, and frowning. They also join with the muscles of the stapes, a bone in the ear involved in listening.
When the facial nerve damages, like in Bell’s palsy, the following symptoms may happen:
- It becomes difficult in closing one of the eyelids.
- Unexpected weakness or paralysis on one side of the face.
- Feeling irritation in the eye because it does not blink correctly hence becomes very dry.
- An inappropriate amount of tears the eye produces.
- Dropping parts of the face, like one side of the mouth.
- One side of the mouth starts drooling.
- Distorted facial expressions.
- Taste buds may function improperly.
- An affected ear may cause difficulty in hearing.
- Headache and pain in the front or behind the affected ear.
Medications Steroid medications considered to be the best treatment and recommended by doctors for Bell’s palsy. However, there are no fixed medications approved to treat it. The dose depends upon the degree of facial paralysis. Also, doses of antiviral vary with the drug chosen.
Physical and electrotherapy are also one of the ideal treatments a patient can take benefit from. Doctors recommend regular facial exercises that help prevent contractures of damaged muscles.
Surgical options for patients with facial muscle sensitivity or paralysis include one or more of the following:
- Nerve repair or nerve grafts can be done by cutting or removing. Direct microscopic repair is yet another best option.
- Nerve transposition: Often, the hypoglossal nerve (tongue nerve) or the other facial nerve can be joined with the existing facial nerve. Likewise, the temporalis muscle or masseter muscle can be connected to the corner of the mouth to allow movement of the face.
- Botox is also one of the possible treatments done to treat Bell’s palsy.