Bell’s palsy is a rare condition that affects 40,000 people in the United States every year. What causes this facial paralysis? What are the long-term effects of Bell’s palsy?
In this disease, there is nerve damage to the seventh cranial nerve in the patient’s face and this causes the face to become paralyzed. The facial muscles on one side of the face become immobile from the eyebrow to the chin. In extreme rare cases, both sides of the face become affected.
The length of time that the paralysis is in effect depends on the treatment course, other illnesses, as well as the age of the patient. This temporary condition will reverse itself with treatment and time. It is grueling for patients and their families.
As a certified nurse’s aide, I have cared for an elderly female patient with this disease. As a parent, I watched my then 10-year-old daughter live with the disease for three long months. My daughter recovered totally with the exception of a slightly droopy eye that is noticeable only when she is tired.
Prednisone may help to lesson the swelling and irritation of the disease.
Acetaminophen will relieve some of the pain that comes with this condition as well.
Some patients have found that facial massages will help minimize the lasting effects of the condition.
If you think you or someone you love may have this disease it is very important you consult a medical doctor to confirm or deny the diagnosis.
Caring for the Bell’s palsy Patient
Bell’s palsy patients must be very careful within their daily activities so they don’t further damage the affected area. Children with this disease are taken out of gym class and are told not to run and jump.
Adults are instructed to watch their activities as well. When they have no feeling in their face, it is easy to damage it, which could result in lasting damage.
Eating food is easy for the patient as they can learn to chew on the other side; however, it does not look pretty. If your child is affected by this condition, ask school personnel to allow your child to eat in a different room, to make it easier for your child.
An eye patch at night along with eye drops by day will keep the eye moist. The Visine and other over the counter eye drops will work, until the tear process begins naturally once more after the disease has run its process.
Rolling a towel lengthwise and placing it under the neck only will give the patient much needed support. With the Bell’s Palsy its uncomfortable for a patient to sleep on a pillow where the whole head is supported.
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