Bell’s Palsy and the Herpes Simplex Virus

Bell’s Palsy and the Herpes Simplex Virus

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Bell’s palsy is a paralysis or weakness of the muscles on one side of your face. It results from damage to the nerve that controls movement of the muscles in the face, the damage may also affect your sense of taste and how you make tears and saliva. This condition can come on, often overnight and usually gets better on its own within a few weeks. This is not a result of a stroke or transient ischemic attack. This is referred to as a (TIA). Palsy simply means weakness or paralysis,
What causes Bell’s palsy is not clear, but some experts believe it is linked to the herpes simplex virus, that causes cold sores or Influenza. Many health problems can cause weakness or paralysis of the face. This is a form of cranial mononeuropathy VII, which is the 7th cranial facial nerve and the nerve controls the movement of the face. Bell’s palsy could also be linked to inflammation of the nerve in the area where it travels through the bones of the skull. And other such conditions as diabetes, and Lyme disease the symptoms for Bell’ palsy is as follows.
• A dry eye-like crocodile tears
• Weakness in face
• Face feels stiff or pulled to one side
• Pain behind the ear on the affected side of the face which may occur a day or two before the paralysis begins.
• A dry mouth and problems swallowing because you make less saliva.
• Loss of taste
• Difficulty with eating and drinking
• Sensitivity to sound on the side of the face affected.
• Headache.
• Drooling
Your doctor will decide whether you have Bell’s palsy by asking you questions about your medical history, like what are the symptoms? When did they start have you had this before .Do you have any other problems such as dizziness, hearing loss or weakness in the other parts of your body. During this examination he will check out the upper and lower part of the face, have you lift your eyebrows and then lower them, close your eyes tightly and then open them. Smile and show the teeth, Weakness may affect the forhead, eyelid or mouth. Blood pressure is normal. Early detection and treatment of Bell’s palsy may help prevent permanent nerve damage. At the point in the exam your Doctor may order test which include,
• Blood test to rule out diseases such as Lyme disease,HIV,or syphilis
• A CT scan or MRI to check for a brain tumor or stroke
• An EMG and nerve conduction studies to determine the severity of nerve damage.

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• A lumbar puncture to check for signs of infection or bleeding.
Treatment of Bell’s palsy in most cases is not necessary; however the goal is to relieve the symptoms. Most people who have this will recover on their own within one to two months. But a small number of people may have permanent weakness of the muscles on the affected side of the face. Your Doctor may prescribe antiviral drugs such as acyclovir, prednisone, or dexamethasome.Corticosteroids or antiviral medications may reduce swelling and relieve pressure on the facial nerve. These drugs must be given early to be most affected, usually within 24 hours of the symptoms if the doctor believes that this was caused by the virus. Lubricating eye drops or ointment may be recommended to protect the eye, surgery has been shown to be controversial and not shown to benefit people with Bell’s palsy. The outcome varies and the disorder is not life threatening. There however could be some complications which are as follows.
• Disfigurement from facial movement
• Damage to eye
• Chronic taste abnormalities.
The most important thing you can do for yourself or a family member is to call your health care provider immediately so that a stroke can be ruled out as quickly as possible and to always use safety measures to reduce the incidence of head injury.
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