July 22, 2013

If Your Face Droops, Seek Immediate Attention

Bell's Palsy (also known as facial palsy) is a condition that causes sudden weakness in the facial muscles of half of the face, making your smile one sided and the eye on the same side hard to close.  It can occur at any age and is thought to be the result of inflammation of the nerve that controls the muscles on one side of the face.  It may be a reaction that occurs after a viral infection.  For most people it is temporary--symptoms usually start to improve within a few weeks, with complete recovery in about six months.  The mild weakness to total paralysis can come on suddenly.  The facial droop may be accompanied by pain around the jaw, increased sensitivity to sound on that side, decrease in ability to taste and headache.  Immediate medical help is mandatory.  Since the palsy is linked to viral infections, antiviral drugs are often prescribed.  In addition, corticosteroids, started as soon as possible, are powerful anti-inflammatory agents and can reduce the swelling of the facial nerve.  Home treatment involves over the counter pain relievers, applying moist heat and keeping the open eye properly lubricated.

Robert G. Tupac, DDS, FACP, Inc., Diplomate, American Board of Prosthodontics (661) 325-1275 | www.drtupac.com 5060 California Ave., #170, Bakersfield, CA 93309

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