Bell’s palsy causes muscles on one side of your face to become weak or paralyzed due to compression or inflammation of the seventh cranial nerve. Certain symptoms of this condition, like facial drooping, can sometimes mimic those of a stroke. If you’ve suddenly started to experience facial drooping or difficulty talking, seek immediate medical attention.
Mild cases of Bell’s palsy typically subside gradually within a few weeks or months. If this condition occurs in pregnant women, available treatment may be limited due to concerns about the baby’s health. Consult a specialist to determine the most appropriate treatment for yourself and your child. Medicines can help manage your symptoms and reduce the course of moderate and severe Bell’s palsy. Apart from medicines, you can be prescribed additional therapies aimed at reducing your symptoms and preventing muscle shortening due to persistent facial drooping.
Keep on reading to discover the eight ways of treating bell’s palsy, including both traditional and alternative options.
1. Antivirals and antibacterial drugs
If the varicella-zoster virus is determined to be causing your symptoms, a bell’s palsy specialist can recommend you taking acyclovir (or other antiviral medications for herpes zoster). This medicine will help reduce the duration of Bell’s palsy by treating its culprit. Antivirals provide the most benefits within a few first days after infection.
Though antivirals can help you recover faster, certain studies state that they fail to treat the symptoms of Bell’s palsy. If you’ve been prescribed an antiviral medication, consult a specialist about its advantages and disadvantages and potential side effects. Some cases of Bell’s palsy can result from Lyme disease and can be treated with prescription antibiotics.
2. Eye drops or gels
Bell’s palsy paralyzes the muscle responsible for closing the eyelid on one side of your face. It can cause the affected eyelid to become dry and exposed. Specialists may recommend moisturizing the affected eye with a prescription or over-the-counter lubricating eye drops or gels to prevent the open sore from forming on it. In some cases, you may be advised to cover the affected eye with a protective eye patch. However, avoid wearing a patch without consulting a specialist first.
Corticosteroids like prednisone can help mitigate inflammation and achieve faster recovery. If you have a persistent herpes zoster infection, your specialist may prescribe prednisone with antiviral medication.
About 15% of Bell’s palsy patients experience long-term consequences of an inflamed facial nerve. These may include facial asymmetry or droopiness. Facial plastic surgery may be required to fix these.
There are not enough scientific studies conducted to prove that acupuncture is effective for treating Bell’s palsy. However, many people say it helps reduce symptoms and shortens the course of the condition. In general, acupuncture is considered to be a safe treatment option.
6. Botox injections
Botox injections can help fix facial asymmetry after most symptoms of Bell’s palsy have been treated. Certain patients never fully recover mobility in the affected facial muscles. Injecting botox into the unaffected side of your face can loosen the muscles and may help mimic the weakness of the affected side.
Massaging the affected side of your face may help keep your muscles flexible and prevent them from hardening. Massage may be included in your Bell’s palsy physical therapy regimen. A physical therapist can teach you how to massage your face on your own.
8. Physical therapy
Physical therapy can help prevent the muscles on the affected side of your face from becoming hard and rigid. A physical therapy specialist will help you exercise your facial muscles to maintain them in tone.