Facial paralysis can affect the quality of life of the person in a very important way. All the symptoms that it produces in the affected person can mean a decrease in the confidence of the patient and even come to feel ashamed.
What is facial paralysis?
Paralysis is an acute syndrome that affects the facial nerve or seventh cranial nerve producing temporary paralysis weakness in the musculature of the face. The facial nerve begins in the cerebral cortex, ending in the rotor plates of the muscles sending all the necessary information to the muscles. When a lesion occurs somewhere in the path of the nerve, facial paralysis occurs. The facial nerve is one of the 12 nerves that are directly connected to the brain. It is a mixed and double nerve in the face. Its functions are to control the movements of the musculature on one side of the face, the sensitivity of the ear and the damping of loud sounds, control tears, saliva, the closing and opening of the eye and the anterior part of taste in the language.
Facial nerve disorder that causes weakness in the muscles involved It is a disorder of the facial nerve or seventh cranial nerve that controls the movement of the muscles of the face. This damage produces weakness or paralysis in the mentioned muscles. This disorder affects about 30,000 to 40,000 Americans. It is estimated that the paralysis is a consequence of the inflammation of the nerve in the area where it crosses the bones of the skull. The cause of Bell’s disorder is not clear. It may be related to herpes zoster infection. Other conditions that can cause paralysis include:
- Lyme’s disease
- HIV infection
- Middle ear infection
Sometimes the person may manifest a cold a little before the symptoms of paralysis begin. Symptoms often begin abruptly but may take 2 to 3 days to manifest and do not become serious until after that time.
- They usually appear only on one side of the face, although they can range from mild to severe
- Some patients feel a discomfort behind the ear before the weakness appears. The face may feel warm or stretched on one side and look different.
Other symptoms may include:
- Difficulties to close the eye
- Drooling as a result of lack of control of the muscles of the face
- Difficulties to smile, make faces or facial expressions
- Difficulty eating and drinking, which cause food or drink to come out of one side of the mouth
- Eyelid or mouth corner of the mouth
- Weakness of the muscles of the face
- Dry mouth
- Loss of the sense of taste
- Dry eyes that can lead to eye infections or ulcers
In general, no type of treatment is necessary. The symptoms usually improve immediately. But in some cases, it may take a few weeks for the muscles of the face to be strengthened. The doctor may indicate lubricating drops or eye ointments for the eyes when they cannot be kept completely closed, in order to maintain the humidification. It may also be necessary to use a patch during the night. In some cases, medications such as corticosteroids can be used to decrease inflammation around the facial nerve and fight the virus that causes paralysis.
In the vast majority of cases, Bell’s palsy disappears completely in a few weeks or months. When all the nerve function is not lost and the symptoms improve in about three weeks, there is a greater chance that the recovery of the facial muscles will be complete. In some circumstances, the following symptoms may continue:
- Muscle or eyelid spasms
- Long changes in the sense of taste
- Constant weakness in the muscles of the face
As a result of ocular dryness that can lead to the appearance of ulcers or infections in the eyes, loss of vision can occur.