Chidi Mokeme, a Nollywood actor, recently discussed his battle with Bell’s palsy.
The actor revealed that his illness was the reason he took a break from acting.
Although Bell’s palsy is not widely discussed, it is the most common cause of unilateral facial paralysis.
According to research, Bell’s palsy affects 11-40 people per 100,000 people each year, with the peak incidence occurring between the ages of 15 and 50.
Pregnant women, on the other hand, are said to be three times more likely to experience it than non-pregnant women.
WHAT IS BELL’S PALSY?
Idiopathic facial paralysis (IFP), also known as Bell’s palsy, is a neurologic disorder that causes sudden and temporary weakness or paralysis of the muscles in the face.
When the nerve that controls your facial muscles becomes inflamed, swollen, or compressed, it can cause this condition. This disorder causes one side of the face to droop or stiffen.
WHAT CAUSES BELL’S PALSY?
Bell’s palsy happens when the facial nerve swells or compresses, causing facial weakness or paralysis.
The exact cause of this nerve damage is unknown, but it is thought to be caused by a viral infection.
Some studies, however, have identified the herpes simplex virus (a common cause of cold sores) as the most likely cause of Bell’s palsy.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF BELL’S PALSY?
Symptoms of Bell’s palsy tend to come on suddenly and reach peak severity within 48 to 72 hours.
These symptoms’ severity varies, from mild symptoms to total paralysis. However, some of the common symptoms include:
- Difficulty in eating and drinking
- Difficulty in pronouncing certain words
- Sensitivity to sound
- Inability to make facial expressions
- Loss of taste
- Facial or ear pain
- Ringing in ears (Tinnitus)
- Dry eye and mouth
HOW IS BELL’S PALSY TREATED?
Bell’s palsy symptoms improve in most people and they can full recovery without treatment.
However, there are some treatments that tend to fasten the healing process.
- Use of prescribed corticosteroids (anti-inflammatory drugs) to help ease the nerve swelling and help regain facial movement faster
- Use of antiviral medications
- Use of prescribed eye drops and eye patch if the eyes are affected
- Massage of the facial muscles
However, in the worst case of Bell’s palsy, functional facial plastic surgery procedures are options for people who don’t recover to help correct facial asymmetry and assist with eyelid closure.