Bell's Palsy

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate November 2001

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Looking in the mirror a face appears, one side is drooping, it might break out into a half smile, or perhaps the eye will be streaming tears from perpetually staying open. Is this a villain from a movie? Is it some rare disorder? Actually, it is Bell's palsy, a fairly common condition that affects the facial nerve causing partial paralysis of the face. Sir Charles Bell, a Scottish surgeon and physiologist, first identified the disorder.

The 7th cranial nerve, or facial nerve, may sometimes suffer damage due to Bell's palsy. This can strike the whole population, but is most common between the ages of 15 and 60. Some estimations have put the figure of those affected to be around 10 in 10,000 people. It is more common in pregnant women. Bell's Palsy can last for anywhere from 2-3 weeks in mild cases, 3-5 months or even cause permanent damage to the nerve.

The actual cause is not really known but is speculated to be from several factors. Viruses in general, and Herpes Simplex in particular, pressure dorm the temporal bone, tumors, and a variety of other things may be causes of Bell's palsy.

Many symptoms are associated with the disorder, but physical and psychological. In addition to the drooping of the face and the half smile, the eye is also affected. It can dry out because of the inability to blink or shut it. All facial expressions on the affected side can be altered and some people also have earaches, fatigue pain, sensitivity to sounds, drooling, vertigo, and facial numbness. Treatment to ease the symptoms most commonly is the prescription of steroids. Some cases may need surgery in attempts to relieve pressure from the nerve. Unfortunately, harder to treat are the psychological side effects. Sufferers some times experience anxiety about being in front of cameras or in front of people and feel the have a lack of support.

There are no celebrities, which suffered from this disorder. When I was in fifth grade I was diagnosed with Bell's palsy after having the Chicken Pox. The left half of my face was affected and that eye didn't shut. I had to have eye drops and tape it shut to prevent drying out. Fortunately, I didn't have a very bad case and it was treatable with steroids. My left eye however is still slightly droopy and is smaller than the right, especially when I am very tired. Bell's Palsy is widespread and can affect anyone.

Works Cited 1. Unknown Author. Bells Palsy Frequently Asked Questions. 2000.http://www.> 2. AAO-Head and Neck Surgery, inc. Patient Info. 1998.


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