Bells, But No Whistles: Bell’s Palsy

The face is one of the primary assets that a person can have when interacting with others. It is a useful tool when attempting to convince or sway people, particularly when combined effectively with voice and gestures. Simple facial gestures from a trusted figure can go a long way to helping someone overcome fear and anxiety in a variety of situations. A well-placed smile can also go a long way in getting someone to overcome his anxiety and agree to a risky but profitable operation. So it is understandable that some people would rather not have to attempt to convince someone of anything if they have Bell’s Palsy.

Bell’s Palsy is a neurological disorder that causes a distinctive distortion of the lips commonly known as the “Bell’s Smile.” The problem is typically caused by inflammation of certain muscles on one side of the face, causing the famous “distortion.” The disorder is also often accompanied by partial or total paralysis of one side of the face. In most cases, the paralysis and inflammation are limited only to a certain area, being just enough to prevent a person from naturally correcting the unusual crookedness of the lips. Most doctors investigate how far the damage extends, as cases can differ between the number of nerves that are actually involved in the problem.

Being diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy is often a case of elimination for the attending physicians. There are various problems and neurological disorders that can affect the face. The common symptom, the inflammation of certain muscles in the face, can also be caused by a wide range of internal and external factors. A stroke and a minor tumor on the side of the face can also cause the prerequisite level of paralysis, though it is not a common occurrence for either one. In some cases, it has been reported that the inflammation itself is the cause of the problem, rather than being a symptom of the problem itself.

Treatment for Bell’s Palsy is often either difficult or unnecessary. It can be difficult because there is no clear cause, thus giving doctors nothing to directly attack. In some cases, muscle relaxants are given to help ease the inflammation, but this is only a preliminary measure. Anti-inflammatory drugs have also been suggested to help decrease what it seen as the core of the problem. However, studies have shown that these drugs have not been consistently effective. In the past, surgery has been used to correct these musculo-facial problems but the results have either been inconclusive or have proven to be ineffective. Some have tried to look towards alternatives such as acupuncture, but this avenue of treatment has also shown inconclusive results. Chinese medicine recognizes the problem, but there are no reports on what is the traditional treatment for it.

In most cases, Bell’s Palsy fades by itself if treated early on. In the earlier stages of the disorder, muscle relaxants are often enough to eventually correct the problem. The duration of the problem varies, but it can range from weeks to months. In some cases, however, it can be prolonged if the treatment is not administered early enough to have an appreciable effect. While these people are able to converse as normal, some conditions can cause it to worsen and the person would be rendered unable to speak normally for a period of time.