Bell palsy is an acute, sudden onset of facial nerve paralysis. This is not due to a stroke (when the brain does not get enough oxygen). But, emergent care is needed to confirm that this is a palsy and not a stroke. Call your doctor immediately, or if after hours, seek emergency department help.
What’s the risk? If left untreated, up to 30% of patients have some level of permanent facial symmetry or facial pain.
Why do patients get Bell palsy? Some research shows that a viral infection, like herpes or varicella zoster virus can cause this.
What is the best treatment? Combined studies of over 2000 Bell palsy patients showed that a combination of both corticosteroids plus antivirals gave the best long-term results. These two medicines improved long-term motor movement of the face and decreased excessive tear production over corticosteroids alone.
When should you be seen? As soon as you get the symptoms you should seek care. It is known that treatment started before 72 hours of symptoms helps decrease symptoms and length of symptoms.
I have been practicing as a family physician for over 20 years--as both an educator of physicians and clinician. From infancy to the elderly, I perform obstetrics and general medicine. I love my career and am passionate about my field of knowledge and my patients.
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