Bell's Palsy

Bell's Palsy

One morning at about 4am I awoke feeling very thirsty, my left eye felt really itchy and strange and I had a dull ache in the left side of my throat.
I got up to go the bathroom. It was dark, so I felt my way around not wanting to wake my fiance and made it to the bathroom and poured myself a drink of water. As I drank, in the dark, I felt water dribble down the left side of my face and onto my pyjamas.
I laughed to myself thinking I had missed because I was so tired and half-asleep.
I went back to bed and awoke to the sound of my alarm at 6.50am.

I recall lying there not wanting to get up I had never felt so tired, but what made me get up was I had promised myself I would get to work by 8 am that morning as I had so many things to do. As I walked toward the kitchen my left eye felt irritated and I remember thinking how I felt "heavy" like at the onset of a cold. I then went to rub my irritated eye and to yawn and that's when it hit me something was seriously wrong.

I ran to the bathroom, and saw straight away my face on the left side was sagging and my eye looked so strange. I tried to calm myself, went to my bedroom to call my fiance and when he answered his phone I tried to tell him "something is wrong with my face." He could not understand me as my mouth would not work properly and I was slurring. I repeated this 3 times and by the 3rd time panic had set in and I started to cry. He told me he was on the way, still unable to grasp what I was on about but obviously realising something was wrong.

Arriving at my family doctors I was simply told "You have Bell's Palsy." But what does it all mean ...

Symptoms of Bells' Palsy

Named after Sir Charles Bell (1774-1842), a Scottish physician and psychologist.
Bell's Palsy is caused by damage to the 7th facial cranial nerve which controls movement to the side of the face.
Bells Palsy usually only effects one side of the face however in a smaller percentage of cases it can affect both. This is called Bilateral Palsy.
In most cases symptoms just suddenly appear with many case studies showing patients complaining of an ear-ache, twitching face, sore throat and other various symptoms the day prior to the onset. Many fall victim to Bells Palsy while they are sleeping and wake up with the condition. This can be most alarming as many believe they have suffered a mild stroke. 10 in 10,000 suffer from Bell's Palsy.

Symptoms can worsen over the first 2 to 5 days and this normally includes trouble smiling, difficulty in moving muscles in the face, not being able to close the eye on the affected side, not being able to raise and eyebrow and in some more severe cases, drooling.
Some people also experience fatigue, a sensitivity to sounds, earache, loss of taste, a metallic taste in the mouth, pain behind the jaw or ear, drooling, slurred speech, vertigo (dizziness), headache, facial numbness, crocodile tearing (excessive tears), blurred vision, and dry eye.

Depression can set in and a sense of helplessness as there is not a lot that can be done for Bells Palsy sufferers. The most important thing is to stay positive, remember that it will go away spontaneously and that rest and relaxation as well as a healthier diet and lifestyle will all contribute to a full recovery.

Care needs to be taken with the eye as it cannot lubricate when there is no ability to blink and objects are more likely to get in the eye as it is not able to close. Eye patches are often recommended as is a special ointment and/or drops to keep the eye moist.

Speech can also be affected which can cause further frustration and depression as the mouth is unable to make the shapes of words.

Research suggests that those with a weakened immune system, such as pregnant women, diabetics and anyone suffering with moderate to severe stress are more susceptible to getting Bell's Palsy and it usually strikes those aged between 15 and 60.

A link between the Herpes Simplex I Virus has also been found with Bell's Palsy. Additionally many patients have been found to be lacking in vitamins C, B and Calcium these nutrients are essential to things such as the immune system and nerve function.

So if you have Bells Palsy there is help available. Make sure you see your Doctor, go to a specialist such as a neurologist and dose up on healthy foods, rest and relaxation. It will get better and for those who take a little longer to recover, try not to get to concerned, stress will only work against you.

For more information, visit the following sites:

- Michelle Palmer


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