Bell's Palsy, also known as the facial palsy, is a medical condition that is characterized by a drooping of the affected area in the face because of a facial nerve malfunction. This condition was named after Charles Bell, a Scottish anatomist who was the first person to describe it. The Bell's Palsy is actually the most common acute mononeuropathy, a type of disease that involves only a single nerve. It is also considered the most common reason for acute facial nerve paralysis.
Every year, there are about 40,000 people all over the United States who get affected by Bell's Palsy. In a lifetime, Bell's Palsy affects about 1 person in 65. In fact, pregnant women are three times more likely to get affected with it compared to non-pregnant women. This condition is more common in youngger adults and it is four times more likely to affect those with diabetes compared to the general population. And for some reason, those who are of Japanese descent have just a bit higher incidence of the Bell's Palsy condition.
The treatment of Bell's Palsy may be an issue since it depends on the patient's situation. For instance, if the patient has incomplete facial palsy then treatment may not be necessary. But if the patient has complete paralysis that is characterized by the inability to close the affected eyes and mouth, then the treatment would most likely include anti-inflammatory corticosteroids. However, the effectiveness of this kind of treatment has not been truly demonstrated.
Ever since Bell's Palsy has been associated with the herpes virus, American neurologists became inclined to prescribe an anti-viral medication to all the patients that have unexplained facial palsy. The most common anti-viral medication prescribed is acyclovir. There were also surgical procedures that were used to try and decompress the facial nerve but have not been beneficial to the condition. An alternative treatment is acupuncture, but this has only turned up inconclusive results.
Those who think that they might have Bell's Palsy should immediately consult a doctor who will be able to find out whether all the parts of the facial nerve are involved and if the muscles in the forehead are spared. Since the forehead muscles receive innervation from the both sides of the brain, the forehead could still be wrinkled as long as the Bell's Palsy is caused by a brain problem and not a facial nerve. The Bell's Palsy results from the inability to manipulate facial muscle movement since the muscles became paralyzed or weak.
It is possible for this condition to subside within about two to three weeks, and it could also be treated with certain medication. But the medications would only be effective if these were administered at a time that is not too late after the sunset of Bell's Palsy. But a lot of patients complete recover from Bell's Palsy within just a few weeks, while some may require about several months, and the others may unfortunately be left with some deficits that have varying degrees.