Although much is yet unknown about this rare and mysterious disease, at least 75 percent of Bell's Palsy cases are preceded by respiratory infections.
The symptoms of Bell's Palsy often resemble those of a stroke or tumor. This is often due to the partial facial paralysis that occurs on one side of the face. In my mother's case, our family was convinced she that a stroke had occurred when we noticed that one side of her face was drooping. The possibility of a stroke or tumor must be ruled out before a definitive diagnosis of Bell's Palsy is made.
While the cause of Bell's Palsy is yet unknown, many theories about causes of this rare neurological disorder exist. The most common theory is that stress is a primary cause of Bell's Palsy. This is easy to believe in my mother's case as it occurred shortly after my father passed away following a four-month battle against pancreatic cancer. Other less likely causes of Bell's Palsy include:
- Hypertension or high blood pressure
Whether Bell's Palsy is an inherited disuse remains unclear, although it is a possibility considered by researchers.
How is Bell's Palsy Treated?Although steroids are often prescribed as treatment for Bell's Palsy, the effectiveness of these drugs is unclear. The therapy that appears to have the most benefit for treating Bell's Palsy is eye drops due to the dryness of the eyes that occurs in Bell's Palsy patients and the inevitable inability to blink the eyes properly that accompanies the facial paralysis of this neurological disorder.
Patients suffering the effects of Bell's Palsy need to be advised to relax more to relieve the stress that may cause this disease. The majority of patients improve about 80 percent within a few weeks. Sometimes recovery takes more than three months and for some Bell's Palsy patients complete recovery never occurs. Although failure to recovery completely from Bell's Palsy is rare, my mother has never fully recovered from her bout with this disease in over nine years. The most significant way that my mother's life has been affected is her inability to drink from a glass and requiring a straw for all drinks.