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   Health > Ailments > Bell's Palsy - Defin
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Bell's Palsy - Definition, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

I had Bells Palsy myself more than ten years ago now. I simply woke one morning feeling a little odd, when I looked in the mirror I could see, and realised that the right side of my face had dropped and I had no control over it all. It was very scary, I had never heard of Bells Palsy, and a stroke was the only thing I could think of that affected one side of the body.

It was quite bizarre, pulling faces in the mirror and watching only half my face respond, with a line that could be drawn down the dead centre of my face.

I was diagnosed with Bell's Palsy, and the relief was immense, when viral infection was mentioned. I was given a dose of strong steroids and a single appointment with the physiotherapist.

The physiotherapist was stretched and a little strained, there was just him for quite a large catchment area, and he explained that most people manage to regain 90% of their facial functions / muscles .... 90%!!!! That made me nervous. The exercises he outlined, which basically amounted to pulling faces in the mirror .. I did constantly, hour upon hour, for weeks.

I regained the right side of my face slowly. The hardest part was not being able to close my right eye, it was very dry, red and sore for some time. I managed to get through a Job interview without mentioning it, and got the job. I think I regained perhaps 98% of my face over twelve months, with the lions share of that in the first few.

Now I can't really frown, if I frown my forehead does not crease, and if I flare my nostrils one side does not go quite so high, but it has to be pointed out for anyone to notice ... other than this I'm back to the way I was and there's nothing really wrong with not being able to frown :o).

This article on Bells Palsy by Juliet Cohen is one of those bits of information I wish I'd have had at the time ...



Bells Palsy

Bell's Palsy is facial paralysis, normally affecting one side of the face, and can last from a number of weeks to a number of years. It is the most common cause of facial paralysis.

Bell's palsy is a diagnosis of exclusion; in many cases, no specific cause can be ascertained. The condition may result in a droopy appearance of your face. Bells palsy is not as uncommon as is generally believed. Worldwide statistics set the frequency at approximately .02% of the population (with geographical variations).

his can be a blow to your self-esteem, but most often Bell's palsy isn't serious. In human terms this is 1 of every 5000 people, and 40,000 Americans every year.

The facial nerve (seventh cranial nerve) has 2 components. The larger portion comprises efferent fibres that stimulate the muscles of facial expression.

The smaller portion contains taste fibres to the anterior two thirds of the tongue, secretomotor fibres to the lacrimal and salivary glands, and some pain fibres.

Viral infections such as herpes, mumps, or HIV, and bacterial infections such as Lyme disease or tuberculosis can cause inflammation and swelling of the facial nerve that causes Bell's palsy.

Bells palsy is more prevalent than generally believed. Bells palsy should not cause any other part of the body to become paralysed, weak or numb.

Most people either wake up to find they have Bells palsy, or have symptoms such as a dry eye or tingling around their lips that progress to classic Bell's palsy during that same day.

Occasionally symptoms may take a few days to be recognizable as Bells palsy. The degree of paralysis should peak within several days of onset - never in longer than 2 weeks (3 weeks maximum for Ramsey Hunt syndrome).

Other symptoms may include pain or discomfort around the jaw and behind the ear, ringing in one or both ears, headache, loss of taste, hypersensitivity to sound on the affected side, impaired speech, dizziness, and difficulty eating or drinking.

Bell's palsy occurs when the nerve that controls the facial muscles is swollen, inflamed, or compressed, resulting in facial weakness or paralysis.

Although most patients (60-80%) recover completely from Bell's palsy within several weeks, some require several months, and others may be left with deficits of varying degrees.

The most important factor in treatment is to eliminate the source of the nerve damage. Surgical procedures to decompress the facial nerve have been attempted, but have not been proven beneficial.

Facial massage and exercises may help prevent permanent contractures (shrinkage or shortening of muscles) of the paralysed muscles before recovery takes place.

Moist heat applied to the affected side of the face may help reduce pain.

Other therapies that may be useful for some individuals include relaxation techniques, acupuncture, electrical stimulation, biofeedback training, and vitamin therapy (including vitamin B12, B6, and zinc), which may help nerve growth.

In some cases, a small dose of botulinum toxin can be injected into the Treatment may involve steroid and anti-viral therapy.

Painkillers may also be required.

It's important to protect the eye from drying, which may result in infection and ulceration.

For others, treatment may include medications such as acyclovir - used to fight viral infections - combined with an anti-inflammatory drug such as the steroid prednisone - used to reduce inflammation and swelling.





Treatment for Bell's Palsy Tips

1. Surgical procedures to decompress the facial nerve have been attempted, but have not been proven beneficial.

2. Facial massage and exercises may help prevent permanent contractures (shrinkage or shortening of muscles) of the paralysed muscles before recovery takes place.

3. Moist heat applied to the affected side of the face may help reduce pain.

4. Other therapies that may be useful for some individuals include relaxation techniques, acupuncture, electrical stimulation, biofeedback training, and vitamin therapy (including vitamin B12, B6, and zinc).

5. A small dose of botulinum toxin can be injected into the Treatment may involve steroid and anti-viral therapy.

6. Painkillers may also be required. It's important to protect the eye from drying, which may result in infection and ulceration.

7. Treatment may include medications such as acyclovir used to fight viral infections combined with an anti-inflammatory drug such as the steroid prednisone.

About the author:
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Juliet Cohen
 
 
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