What is Bell’s Palsy?
Bell’s palsy is relatively uncommon but not rare neurological disorder believed to affect as many as 1 in 70 people during their lifetimes and around 1 in every 5,000 people annually. When the condition strikes, it causes one side of a person’s face to become wake or paralyzed. As well as the face drooping on one side, other common symptoms are drooling, impaired speech and certain other symptoms also associated with a stroke.
Although the precise cause is not certain, most experts agree that Bell’s palsy is caused by some kind of viral infection. The symptoms can often clear up of their own accord in a few weeks or a couple of months and it is rare for a person to experience long term effects or subsequent episodes.
Bell’s palsy is characterized by a total or partial paralysis or weakness in the facial nerves. It can develop very suddenly or gradually over a few days. The first signs a person notices are often slurred speech and a crooked smile because the facial nerve affected controls facial expressions.
It may also announce itself with a numbness in the face or a tingling feeling. Other initial symptoms include weeping eyes, taste changes, headaches, ear pain and sensitivity to sound. As well as being responsible for facial expression, the nerve affected by the condition controls eye tearing, taste and hearing.
Bell’s Palsy Symptoms
Because a number of the symptom’s experienced with Bell’s palsy are very similar to stroke symptoms, it is vitally important that you seek immediate medical advice.
One of the most common symptoms of Bell’s palsy is a feeling your face and lips are numb much like the feeling you have when you have visited the dentist.
The weakness or paralysis can occur very suddenly or take place more gradually over the course of 48 hours. Apart from the numb sensation, other symptoms include the following:
- Facial drooping on one side
- Jaw pain
- Ear pain
- A decrease or change in taste
- Becoming more sensitive to sounds
- Watering eyes and changes in tear production
- Difficulty or total inability to close one eyelid
Causes of Bell’s Palsy
The precise cause of Bell’s palsy remains uncertain but there is widespread agreement that it is caused by some type of viral infection.
The infections believed to be responsible for the condition include:
- Herpes simplex virus responsible for genital herpes and cold sores.
- Herpes zoster virus responsible for shingles and chicken pox.
- Rubella virus (German measles)
- Influenza B
- Coxasackievirus better known as hand-foot-and-mouth.
- Respiratory illnesses.
Bell’s palsy can happen at any age and neither genetics nor ethnicity are thought to increase the risk. There are however some risk factors that are believed to be associated with the condition. These include:
- Pregnancy particularly in the 3rd trimester.
- Respiratory complaints, the flu or common cold.
- High blood pressure
- Some kind of recent trauma
- Multiple sclerosis
- Myasthenia gravis
- Certain environmental toxins
Traditional Treatment Options
Once your condition has been diagnosed, certain prescription medications like antivirals or corticosteroids might be prescribed along with physical therapy.
In the rare cases where symptoms are long-lasting, plastic surgery might be recommended to correct the damage to the facial nerve.
In the majority of cases, the symptoms will disappear within a few months at most. There are a number of very effective home remedies that we think you will find helpful ranging from nutritional supplements to physical therapy. Here are some of the best.
1) Proper Eye Care
A common symptom of Bell’s palsy is the inability to close your eye. If this is the case, it is essential that you protect the eye from further damage. Your doctor may recommend wearing an eye patch during the night or protective glasses during the day. Eye drops can also hydrate the eye to prevent further damage.
2) Facial Massage
Many people find that a gentle facial massage can help with their discomfort and ease their symptoms. Before going ahead with home massage, you should ask your doctor or physical therapist for the best massage technique.
3) Apply some Warmth
Many people suffering from Bell’s palsy find that applying warmth with a simple moist cloth can have a very positive effect on their discomfort. You can get even more benefits by adding a few drops of a soothing essential oil to the mix.
Many essential oils have a wonderful effect on you state of mind and can reduce anxiety as well as helping to ease the discomfort. Some of the best essential oils for Bell’s palsy symptoms include lavender, chamomile, ylang ylang and rose.
4) A Castor Oil Compress
Another excellent and simple home remedy for Bell’s palsy symptoms is a Castor oil compress. The oil has been used for centuries to protect against the spread of viruses, bacteria and other pathogens and a compress made with Castor oil can help promote healing and stimulate the flow of blood in your face.
Warm up a tablespoon or so of your Castor oil then massage it very gently into the affected side of your face. Cover the area with a warm cloth and leave it in place for around 20 minutes. Repeat the treatment twice daily until your symptoms have healed.
5) Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is linked to the growth of nerves and also the reduction of bodily inflammation. According to research, vitamin B12 compares very well with steroids prescribed for inflammatory disorders.
Vitamin B12 is found in high levels in various animal foods including grass-fed beef, wild fish, eggs, cottage cheese and liver. If you can not get enough of the vitamin through dietary sources, then consider using a good quality vitamin B12 supplement instead.
6) Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 is another of the B vitamin family that can help to ease the symptoms of Bell’s palsy. It is linked to improved function of the nervous system as well as eye health. Because it is a water soluble nutrient, it is best to get your vitamin B6 from dietary sources rather than supplementation.
7) Zinc Supplements
Zinc is an trace mineral that is present in every single bodily cell and is an important part of any home treatment plan for people with Bell’s-palsy. It plays an essential role in a wide range of bodily functions including immune system health, wound healing and thyroid function while it can also treat respiratory issues, colds and certain types of virus.
Zinc supplements are readily available but it is better to get your minerals from a food source. Food rich in zinc include lamb, grass-fed beef, pumpkin seeds, cashew nuts and chickpeas.
Echinacea is a therapeutic herb with outstanding, natural antiviral properties. It can also boost immune health and reduce inflammation. Echinacea may help combat the virus responsible for the condition and ease your symptoms.
Echninacea is available in several supplementary forms but it is recommended that you use a liquid supplement because it is absorbed more readily.
Elderberry is another excellent antiviral herb which is known to reduce the severity of colds, flus and other respiratory infections. The herb may also help to treat your condition and relieve its symptoms.
Elderberry is available in a very wide range of forms including teas, lozenges, syrups, ointments and supplementary capsules.
10) Exercises for Bell’s Palsy
Your physical therapist may recommend various facial exercises that suit your personal needs. These simple exercises can help relieve your discomfort while also improving nerve function in your face.
Exercises suitable for Bell’s-palsy include smiling widely, frowning, wrinkling the nose, opening the mouth very wide, blinking or winking.
We hope that one or more of these natural remedies will help you to treat your condition. Please let us know if you have tried any of them and what you thought of the results.