Bell's palsy (BP) also called facial nerve palsy, is usually a unilateral (one-sided) facial paralysis that occurs suddenly and worsens over a period of hours to days. Dysfunction of the facial nerve can occur through several different mechanisms: compromise of the blood supply to the nerve; inflammation and edema within the nerve; immune reaction; or viral infection.
BP is the most common cause of facial paralysis affecting approximately 65,000 persons every year in the United States. BP mostly affects young and middle-aged adults. The incidence rises again after the age of 60.
Recent research has provided evidence that the herpes simplex virus (HSV) may play an important role in as many as 70% of BP cases. HSV is the same virus that causes cold sores and lives in nerves.
Because most cases of BP resolve spontaneously, the need for treatment has been debated, especially in mild cases. The goals of therapy are to prevent or minimize significant and long-term paralysis, disfigurement and disability. Treatment may include medications and rarely, surgery.
The Medifocus Guide on Bell's Palsy provides answers to the following important questions and medical issues:
What are the most common symptoms of Bell's palsy?
Are there any recognized risk factors for developing Bell's palsy?
What kinds of medical tests are used to establish the diagnosis of Bell's palsy?
What is the current standard of care for the treatment of Bell's palsy?
What treatment options are available for the management of Bell's palsy?
Are there any promising new developments or potential breakthroughs in treatment?
Who are the most notable medical authorities who specialize in Bell's palsy?
Where are the leading hospitals and centers of research for Bell's palsy?
What are the most important questions to ask my doctor about Bell's palsy?
What Your Doctor Reads:
This MediFocus Guide contains an extensive listing of citations and abstracts of recent journal articles that have been published about this condition in trustworthy medical journals. This is the same type of information that is available to physicians and other health care professionals. A partial selection of journal articles that are abstracted in this MediFocus Guide includes:
Bell's palsy: does anything help?. Canadian Family Physician. 2000
Bell palsy complicating pregnancy: a review. Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey. 2000
Bell's palsy and herpes viruses: to (acyclo)vir or not to (acyclo)vir?. Journal of the Neurological Sciences. 1999
Bell's palsy and herpes simplex virus. APMIS. 1997
Medical management of Bell's palsy. Comprehensive Therapy. 1997
Bell's palsy: an update on idiopathic facial paralysis. Nurse Practitioner. 1997
Differential diagnosis of facial paralysis and Bell's palsy identifiable for dental surgeons--a review of the literature. Journal of the New Jersey Dental Association. 1996
Prognostic factors in patients with idiopathic facial paralysis (Bell's palsy): A prospective study. 1999
A comparative study of age and degree of facial nerve recovery in patients with Bell's palsy. European Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology. 1999
Towards evidence based emergency medicine: best BETs from the Manchester Royal Infirmary. Bell's palsy and prednisolone. Journal of Accident & Emergency Medicine. 1999
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