- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Facial Nerve Damage- Bell's palsy
Waiting to hear Greg Whistle!
I had never heard of Bell's palsy until last night when I received a call from my mother. One minute we were discussing my course transcripts the next thing I hear my mother mention something about my younger brother's eye is not closing properly. I asked my mother "what is going on with Greg's eye?" She responded saying "his eye won't close because of his Bell's palsy." My mother thought she had told me the previous Friday when Greg's ailment occurred but alas this was not the case. My brother had tried to call me earlier but he got a message saying - no incoming calls to this number. My mother had given my brother the wrong number. This was why I had not heard from my brother earlier. Poor Greg had been stricken with Bell's palsy and I (his big sister) was unaware until a week later. My mother gave me a brief description of what Bell's palsy is; I was scared to hear about this awful condition that had inflicted my baby brother! I was shocked and upset thinking that my dear brother was dealing with such a stressful condition and I was totally unaware. I quickly said my good-byes to my mother as I was anxious to phone my brother to see how he was doing.
Brother Has Bell's Palsy
When I spoke to Greg I could hear that his speech had been effected by the Bell's palsy. I felt so helpless not knowing what to do or say to comfort him other than letting him know he was in my prayers and that his big sister loves him. He told me he could no longer whistle or give his kids a goodnight kiss at bedtime. The one side of his face is sagging, his hearing is sensitive in the effected sides ear, his eye won't shut properly as well as his speech was impaired. He told me that the previous Thursday evening is when he started noticing that his face felt strange not unlike the sensation or feeling you would have after having freezing at the dentist. By the next day the Bell's palsy was full blown. His doctor that was treating it believed it was caused from a viral infection of some kind. The doctor decided to treat it aggressively which meant that poor Greg was now taking twenty pills a day to combat this dreaded condition. Hopefully this aggressive approach will get Greg to the stage of recovery quicker.
Learning About Bell's Palsy
Once I had gotten off the phone with Greg I decided to research into finding out more about Bell's palsy. The symptoms of Bell's palsy are the same or similar to those of a stroke; but it has no connection to a stroke. It is a type of facial paralysis that happens when there is some type of damage or trauma to the facial nerves. It effects the nerve called the seventh cranial nerve, which is housed inside the fallopian canal which is a bone-type of structure. When the nerve is effected by some kind of injury or viral infection either of these could cause swelling of the nerve which becomes constricted within the canal. This in turn stops oxygen from traveling through the canal causing nerve damage in the process. The fallopian canal is located in the skull beneath the ears; both nerves at either side of the face. Each controls the nerves for one side of the face. The nerves these control include: facial expressions, also eye-blinking, as well as the closing and opening of eyelids. They also carry nerve impulses to saliva glands, taste sensations for the tongue as well as tear glands. A common symptom people encounter is the eye on the effected side runs continually. Bell's palsy disrupts the messages sent from the brain to the facial nerves causing paralysis and facial weakness.
Discovery of Bell's Palsy
Bell's palsy was discovered by a 19th century Scottish surgeon by the name of Sir Charles Bell. He was the first one to describe the symptoms of this condition. People that are suffering from this ailment are left feeling a sense of loss and helplessness. These reactions are quite common as the victims have no warnings of this ailment so they are unable to prepare for it as it hits it's victims like a ton of bricks.
Now on a brighter note most who are afflicted with Bell's palsy make a full recovery within 3 to 6 months at which point functions of the facial nerves return to full function. Many notice improvement two weeks into it. There is different types of therapies to help with the recovery of Bell's palsy such as relaxation techniques, vitamin therapy (B-6,B-12, and zinc) these can help the nerve functions. A moist heated cloth applied to the effected side of face can help to diminish pain. Facial massage is also good to help prevent shortening or shrinkage of muscles before recovery has taken place.
Well I did learn something new last night; I learned about Bell's palsy. I wish I had come to know about it in a less personal way; instead of learning about it due to my baby brother becoming a victim of it. I send my love and prayers to Greg wishing him a quick recovery!
Dedicated to: My Favorite (Only) Baby Brother!