Is Bell’s Palsy a Recurring Condition?
Although Bell’s palsy is one of the primary causes of facial paralysis worldwide, recurring Bell’s palsy is unusual. Some researchers estimate recurring facial nerve paralysis occurs in about 8% of Bell’s palsy cases. Comparatively, a study of 185 Bell’s palsy patients between the ages of 4 and 70 revealed 12% of participants experienced recurrent partial or complete facial paralysis. This study also indicated Bell’s palsy recurrence is more likely in the first two years after the condition’s onset.
Some research shows Bell’s palsy occurs when herpes simplex virus (HSV) gets reactivated in the temporal bone, which contains the middle and inner parts of the ear. In this instance, the facial nerve becomes swollen, often leading to instant facial paralysis.
How Is Bell’s Palsy Treated?
An individual who is dealing with Bell’s palsy may experience a variety of symptoms. Some of the most common Bell’s palsy symptoms include:
- Numbness or pain behind the ear
- Sudden facial paralysis on one side of the face
- Inability to blink or close the eyelid
- Difficulty chewing
- Facial muscle twitching
- Reduced sense of taste
If an individual believes he or she is dealing with Bell’s palsy, it is crucial to go to an emergency room. At this point, a doctor may perform one or more of the following tests to diagnose Bell’s palsy:
- Lab test for Lyme disease
- Thyroid function test
- HIV and hepatitis test
- Neurologic and ear, nose and throat (ENT) evaluation
Additionally, a Bell’s palsy patient may receive a tearing function evaluation, a computed tomography (CT) scan and a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exam. These tests are used to identify the root cause of a patient’s facial paralysis.
An electromyography (EMG) or electroneurography (ENoG) also may be performed. These tests are usually administered to Bell’s palsy patients who are dealing with severe cases of facial paralysis.
In most cases, Bell’s palsy symptoms disappear on their own within about six to nine months of the condition’s onset. If Bell’s palsy symptoms persist for eight months or longer, a treatment consultation with Dr. Babak Azizzadeh of The Facial Paralysis Institute may be ideal.
How Does Dr. Azizzadeh Treat Bell’s Palsy?
Bell’s palsy treatment varies based on the patient and the severity of his or her symptoms. Fortunately, Dr. Azizzadeh takes a holistic approach to treat Bell’s palsy symptoms. He understands each Bell’s palsy case is unique, and as such, dedicates the necessary time and resources to craft a custom treatment plan.
Initially, a Bell’s palsy patient may receive high-dose steroids (prednisone) and antiviral medications (Famvir or Valtrex). These medications, however, offer no guarantees. If a patient continues to display Bell’s palsy symptoms over an extended period of time, Dr. Azizzadeh may recommend surgery.
Dr. Azizzadeh performs selective neuroloysis to help Bell’s palsy patients overcome facial paralysis. The surgery provides permanent facial paralysis relief. It also helps a Bell’s palsy patient achieve a natural-looking smile.
With selective neurolysis, Dr. Azizzadeh uses an intraoperative EMG to map out a Bell’s palsy patient’s facial nerves. Dr. Azizzadeh then decreases the activity of the facial nerves that otherwise prevent a Bell’s palsy patient from smiling. Next, Dr. Azizzadeh releases the platysma muscle that pulls the corner of a patient’s mouth down. This results in spontaneous reanimation of a patient’s face, enabling him or her to produce a natural-looking smile.
Some Bell’s palsy patients benefit from a “supercharging” or “signal upgrading” surgery. This procedure boosts the power of a Bell’s palsy patient’s facial nerve, as well as simultaneously strengthens weak smile muscles and preserves their basic function.
Lastly, Dr. Azizzadeh sometimes recommends Botox for Bell’s palsy patients. Botox injections relax hyperactive muscles in the face. By doing so, they help Bell’s palsy patients temporarily restore facial symmetry and enhance their facial appearance.
Dr. Azizzadeh is happy to perform a Bell’s palsy patient evaluation for first time or recurring conditions. He will explain each Bell’s palsy treatment option and respond to a patient’s concerns and questions. To find out more, please contact The Facial Paralysis Institute today at (310) 657-2203 to schedule a Bell’s palsy treatment consultation with Dr. Azizzadeh.
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