Diagnosis & Treatment
There is no specific test available to diagnose Bell’s Palsy. A doctor may look at your face then ask you to perform facial movements like blinking.
Other conditions like tumors, Lyme disease, and strokes can cause facial muscle weakness that can be similar to the indicators of Bell’s Palsy.
Your doctor may suggest the following tests if the symptoms are not clear:
- Imaging scans to look for pressure on your facial nerve
- Electromyography, or EMG, to look for nerve damage and how severe the damage is.
- Blood tests to look for conditions like Lyme disease
How Do You Treat Bell’s Palsy?
In situations wherein doctors know the cause of Bell’s Palsy, then treatment will be done to address that problem. But in general, there is no specific Bell’s Palsy treatment. The forms of treatment that doctors use usually depend on what symptoms the patient has.
However, most patients can fully recover regardless of whether treatment is provided or not. Recovery time often depends on how severe the nerve damage was, but Bell’s palsy recovery signs may be apparent 2 weeks after the initial symptoms.
While every case is different, doctors usually prescribe the following medications:
- Antiviral drugs
Additionally, doctors might recommend physical therapy to prevent permanent contractures in your facial muscles. A physical therapist may teach you how to exercise and massage your facial muscles.
Decompression surgery was done in the past to relieve pressure on a facial nerve. However, this surgery is not as recommended. People may get permanent hearing loss or facial nerve injury from decompression surgery complications.
Plastic surgery is often only rarely suggested if needed to correct any lasting facial nerve problems. Plastic surgery may be performed to restore facial movement or make the face look more even. Some surgeries that may be done may include:
- Nerve grafts
- Facial implants
- Eyelid lift
- Eyebrow lift
In some procedures like the eyebrow lift, they may need to be done again after a few years.
Some home remedies and alternative medicine that could help you with your symptoms may include:
- Acupuncture (by professionals) to stimulate muscles and nerves to potentially get some relief
- Regularly doing physical therapy exercises
- Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and Advil to potentially ease any pain
- Protection for the eye that cannot close by using lubricating eye drops in the day along with eye ointment at night. You may use an eye patch, goggles, or glasses for more protection.
How Do You Prevent Bell’s Palsy?
There is no known way to prevent Bell’s Palsy because there is no known cause for Bell’s Palsy (unless the cause was an underlying condition).
When Should I See a Doctor?
If you notice that you have any signs of Bell’s Palsy, it would be best to seek medical attention immediately. Most treatment ought to be done 2-3 days of onset of the symptoms.
Additionally, going to the doctor early may help you learn if you have an underlying condition that caused your Bell’s Palsy. So, seeing one if you have any sign of Bell’s Palsy would be ideal.
Most cases of Bell’s Palsy make a full recovery by themselves. However, learning more about it and getting prompt treatment can help you potentially avoid complications and make a full recovery. With proper treatment and therapy you will see Bell’s Palsy recovery signs within weeks or even days.
Learn more about the conditions of the Brain & Nervous System here.