Bell’s palsy refers to a condition in which the muscles of the face become paralyzed. Affecting one side of the face at a time, it is caused by the inflammation of the facial nerve. It can affect people of any age, but it usually hurts those who have diabetes or are recovering from viral infections.
The condition develops suddenly – there may be no symptoms when you go to bed at night but you may wake up with your face drooping in the morning. It may also cause pain behind the ear. Once you know you have this condition, it is important to work with your doctor and take steps to accelerate Bell’s palsy recovery.
How Do You Know If You Have Bell’s Palsy?
The symptoms of Bell’s palsy may develop suddenly and reach their peak in no time (in usually 48 hours). The most common symptoms include the following:
- You may have weakness or complete loss of control in one side of your face with difficulty closing your eyelid.
- You will experience irritation in the eye with increased tear production.
- You will experience pain underneath your ear on the affected side.
- You will develop increased sensitivity to sound in one ear only.
- You will notice drooling from the mouth, usually on the affected side of your face.
- You will have dry mouth.
Moreover, you may also experience headache, pain around the jaw, dizziness, ringing in one ear, impaired speech, and difficulty drinking or eating.
Home Remedies for Bell’s Palsy Recovery
You can improve your chances of recovering faster by taking medications. It is also important to protect your eye if you cannot close your eyelids. Here are some treatment options for quick recovery:
1. Eye Protection
You can always damage your eye if your eyelids do not close properly. It may also lead to dryness. Your doctor will give you goggles or an eye pad for protection along with eye drops to keep your eye moist. There is also an option of taping the lower and upper lid together to keep your eye closed while you are sleeping.
2. Try Heat Compress
Apply soaked warm washcloth on face at least 3 times a day to find some comfort. The heat will help to relax facial muscles and prevent atrophy.
3. Massage with Olive Oil
Regular massage with olive oil can increase blood circulation, which will help to improve your paralysis by stimulating damaged nerve. Start with your lower face. Place your thumb and index finger on each corner of your mouth, then push your lips forward and repeat for about 15 times. Next, massage your forehead and around your eyebrows. After that, move to your cheeks. Remember to apply some pressure to massage in a circular motion. Each part of the face shall be massaged for at least 2-3 minutes.
4. Try Castor Oil
5. Eat Some Celery
The vitamins and minerals in celery are beneficial for nerve health and can help to repair damaged nerve. In addition, celery can also boost your immune system. Eat celery, leaves and stick, raw several times a day.
6. Have Some Ginger and Turmeric
The anti-inflammatory properties in ginger and turmeric are very effective in relieving Bell’s palsy symptoms. You can either add them to your food while cooking or take their supplements.
7. Take Vitamin Supplements
Vitamins such as vitamin B-12, B-6, and zinc can greatly speed up Bell’s palsy recovery. Vitamin B-12 is helpful for neurological conditions while vitamin B-6 helps nerve growth. Vitamin B-1 also helps with its thiamine in treating never inflammation. However, consult your doctor for proper doses before taking them.
Watch a video to see how one patient recovers from his condition:
Medical Treatments for Bell’s Palsy Recovery
The initial treatment involves taking steroids and antiviral medicines, but you may have to take other steps as well to accelerate recovery.
1. Steroid Tablets
You will have to be on a 10-day course of steroid tablets to reduce inflammation. They are quite effective but their long-term use may lead to certain side effects. While taking steroid tablets does not guarantee full recovery, it definitely increases your chances of recovering faster.
2. Antiviral Medicines
Your doctor will give you antiviral medications if they suspect your condition is due to a viral infection. It sometimes proves beneficial for the patient to take antiviral medicines in combination with steroid tablets.
Along with taking medicines, you will get better results by trying some facial exercises. Your physiotherapist will teach you how to perform certain exercises to strengthen your facial muscles. These exercises play a big role in improving coordination in your facial muscles and increasing range of movement. While physiotherapy works great for many, it is not that effective or suitable for everyone.
4. Plastic Surgery
Plastic surgeons work with a facial palsy specialist to help treat your facial weakness. While surgery may not prove beneficial in restoration of nerve function, it may still help protect your eye and improve the overall appearance of your face. They may also change the position of your lower lid to make it easier to close your eyelids. A brow lift is another common procedure used to improve your facial appearance. Some other procedures may help with eating, speech, drinking, and overall facial symmetry.
5. Botulinum Toxin (Botox) Injections
These injections give you the option to treat the unaffected or the affected side of your face. These injections can help your facial muscles to relax to reduce unwanted muscle movements. They can also reduce muscle activity in the unaffected side of your face to maintain a balance. Botox injections may also help treat tears when eating and to keep you from winking an eye when smiling, eating, or laughing.
What Is the Prognosis of Bell’s Palsy?
Bell’s palsy recovery usually depends on the initial damage. Statistics show that about 70% of people manage to make a full recovery after Bell’s palsy – they notice improvement in 2-3 weeks from onset and a full recovery takes up to six months or more in most cases.
The nerve damage is more severe in some individuals and they have to live with permanent facial paralysis. You are more likely to experience severe nerve damage if you are over 60. Nerve damage can be severe if:
- You had severe pain at onset
- You were pregnant at onset
- You had a preexisting condition such as hypertension or diabetes
- You had complete paralysis at onset
The good thing is that new and advanced treatments are now available to help people with severe nerve damage manage their condition better. These treatments help improve overall facial appearance and restore facial function to some extent. However, you may have to deal with more complications if you have recurrent Bell’s palsy – about 7% of patients have to deal with this situation and there is about 10 years interval on average between attacks.