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What To Do When You Get Bell’s Palsy: Simple Advice

5 Steps to speed up the recovery from bell's palsy
Bell's Palsy

What Should You Do After You Get Bell's Palsy?

Have you ever experienced a situation where one side of your face goes numb, and you cannot seem to move it? It’s a condition that can be pretty scary if you wake up with one like that. You might even think you’ve had a stroke. As a licensed acupuncturist, I frequently treat Bell’s Palsy patients. I would love to share some advice on what to do if you experience these symptoms.

We understand this can be a lot of information and overwhelming: if you are looking for more support and answers, set up a free consultation with our Bell’s Palsy Specialist, Satoru Ozawa. Share your story, get your questions answered, and learn how you can set yourself up for tremendous success in achieving a healthy life.

What is Bell's Palsy?

Bell's palsy

First things first, let’s make sure we’re on the same page when it comes to Bell’s Palsy. Bell’s Palsy is a medical condition in which one side of your face is involved and paralyzed, including a drooping mouth, inability to close your eye, raise your eyebrow, make a frown face, smile, etc. These symptoms occur because the facial nerve is damaged or swollen and cannot signal the facial muscles to move.

What causes Bell's Palsy?

The exact causes of Bell’s Palsy are still unknown, but it has been linked to viral infections like herpes simplex. These infections can negatively affect the face, but this is just one theory that has not been confirmed as the exact cause. In fact, some individuals develop Bell’s palsy symptoms without being infected by the virus.

Based on what I’ve noticed, many of my patients have dealt with stressful situations or have spent a lot of time in windy circumstances. Even before they get one, some complaint of ear, neck, or headache on the back of the head. This tells me their immune system should be lower when they get Bell’s Palsy.

So, What should you do if your face is drooping?

First and foremost, you should call 911 or go to the emergency room to rule out if you have a stroke.

Knowing how to tell the difference between Bell’s Palsy and a stroke can be really helpful in avoiding any unnecessary worry while you’re waiting to find out what’s going on from your doctor.

Stroke

If you notice your face drooping, having trouble speaking or struggling to find words, it could be a sign of a stroke. A stroke happens when blood vessels in the brain are blocked, causing severe health problems. It’s crucial to seek immediate medical attention by going to the emergency room.

They can cause symptoms similar to Bell’s Palsy, like a droopy face and trouble speaking. This is because they both affect the cranial nerves, which run from the brain to the face. Depending on where the nerve problem is, you’ll know which one you’re dealing with.

Stroke vs. Bell's Palsy

Then, what is the difference between Stroke and Bell’s Palsy? The most significant difference is whether or not you can make the wrinkles on your forehead.

If you’ve had a stroke, you might notice some drooping in your face and wrinkles on your forehead when you try to raise your eyebrows. But if you have Bell’s Palsy, you won’t have those same symptoms. That’s because a stroke affects the nerve responsible for mouth movement, not the one that controls the forehead. 

Facial nerve paralysis, also known as Bell’s Palsy, impacts the facial nerve responsible for the movements of the frontalis muscle and other parts of the face. That’s why you may notice drooping of the face and an inability to make wrinkles on the forehead.

Common Symptoms of a Stroke

  • Face drooping
  • Sudden numbness or weakness in your face, arm, or leg (especially one side)
  • Trouble speaking
  • Trouble walking
  • Difficult to understand
  • Loss of balance
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Lack of coordination

Typical Symptoms of Bell's Palsy

  • Face drooping
  • Unable to close eyes, raise eyebrows, make a frown face, and smile
  • Face pain
  • Ear pain
  • Neck pain
  • Lose the sense of taste
  • Watery eyes and tears
  • Sensitive to sound
  • Headaches
  • Ringing in the ear
  • Numbness in the tongue

After receiving clearance from your doctor, it is likely Bell’s Palsy and not a stroke. Your doctor may prescribe anti-viral and steroid medications to treat this condition. Then, you can leave the hospital on the same day.

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Bell's Palsy Statistics

Bell’s Palsy is usually just a temporary issue. Still, it might take longer for some people to fully recover than others.

It’s estimated that about 50% of people fully recover in a short amount of time. Another 35% have a good recovery within a year or less. Unfortunately, for a small percentage of about 15%, there may be permanent effects from the condition.

Great News!

In most cases, about 85% of people who experience Bell’s Palsy will recover their facial function back to a normal or almost normal level.

However, it’s important to note that a group of 15% may need stronger treatment options.

The disorder typically lasts 7 to 10 days, beginning with sudden facial weakness. Most patients start to recover after 3 weeks, and around 85% will fully recover within 6 months. However, between 4 and 6% of patients may suffer severe facial muscle deformity, which may not return to normal. Additionally, around 10 to 15% of patients may experience asymmetrical facial movements on the same or opposite side of the face, which can be bothersome.

Source: Bell’s Palsy Natural Treatments and Cures by Johnathan Porter

What's Next?

It’s essential to take every possible step to increase your chances of being in the 85% of people who recover quickly. Waiting too long may reduce your chances of a full recovery.

Whether you have been living with Bell’s Palsy for years or have recently developed the condition, there are 5 steps you can take now to help speed up and improve your recovery.

1. Take Care of Your Eyes

A guy uses an eye drop for bell's palsy

Bell’s Palsy can impact the eyelids, which play an important role in protecting our eyes. Even with facial paralysis, taking care of your eyes and ensuring they stay safe is crucial.

People who have facial paralysis may experience trouble with blinking, which can lead to dry eyes both during the day and at night. This happens because the eyelid cannot fully close, making it difficult for tears to spread across the entire surface of the eye.

Keeping your eyes safe from pollen, dust, and debris is essential. If you don’t, it could cause problems with your vision or even permanent damage. So take care of your eyes and blink properly to keep them healthy!

Use artificial tear drops

Use tear eye drops regularly to keep your eyes moist during the day. You can consult a pharmacist for recommendations on safe and effective over-the-counter artificial tear drops.

Use Eye Patch at Night

If you have trouble closing your eye at night, using a heavier eye lubricant instead of artificial tears can be helpful. However, it’s essential to be cautious when using an eye patch as some people may accidentally scratch their cornea while sleeping. Take proper precautions, like using a plastic wrap patch underneath it. This will give you extra protection in case the patch moves around. Another tip is to use an eyeshade over the patch to help keep it in place.

2. Facial Massage

Giving yourself a facial massage is crucial to stimulate your facial nerve and relax your facial muscles. Doing this on a daily basis can help reduce stiffness, which can lead to headaches. To perform a facial massage, use the pad of your fingers with firm pressure and make small, slow, circular movements. Remember to massage both sides of your face equally, as your face may get tight on the opposite side of Bell’s Palsy due to compensating for the lack of movement on the other side.

  1. Forehead massage
  2. Eyebrow massage
  3. Cheek massage
  4. Chin massage
  5. Neck massage

3. Use a Facial Roller

I suggest my patients use a facial roller to stroke their faces every day. This technique helps to lift and stimulate the facial nerves. For best results, stroke each line of your face 5-10 times by following these directions.

4. Take Vitamin Supplements

Your body requires vitamins to function properly. The B vitamins are considered essential micronutrients and play a crucial role in converting proteins and carbohydrates into energy. There is also a significant correlation between B-vitamins and overall health.

Add some enriched whole grains, dark green veggies, nuts, and meat to your diet to increase your B vitamin intake. However, it’s always a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider before taking any multivitamins or supplements to make sure you’re getting the right amount of vitamin B for your needs.

Vitamin B-12

Vitamin B-12 is crucial for maintaining various bodily functions, such as metabolism (breaking down nutrients to release energy), producing red blood cells, and keeping the central nervous system healthy. Additionally, Vitamin B-12 can positively impact the nervous system, which may be beneficial in treating Bell’s Palsy.

In addition to protecting nerves, Vitamin B12 helps reduce nerve inflammation.

Vitamin B-1

Including vitamin B-1 in your diet might be helpful in shortening paralysis, which could lead to a faster recovery time of less than 3 weeks instead of 3-4 weeks.

Vitamin B-6

Vitamin B-6, known as pyridoxine, is vital for your body, and it helps turn food into glucose and supports your nervous system’s function correctly. Plus, recent research has shown that vitamin B-6 could even help restore the facial nerve, which could be helpful if you’re dealing with symptoms of Bell’s Palsy.

5. Acupuncture Treatment

Medical research has shown that acupuncture is an effective treatment for Bell’s Palsy. This ancient Chinese technique involves inserting fine needles into the skin to improve overall health and wellbeing, as well as relieve pain and cure diseases. As a result, acupuncture has become increasingly popular worldwide as a treatment option for various health conditions.

Many people believe that this Chinese technique can activate your central nervous system, which may help release helpful substances like neurotransmitters and hormones. These substances can then enhance your body’s natural healing system, leading to better physical and emotional health.

Is Acupuncture Effective for Bell's Palsy?

Yes. During your first acupuncture session, we evaluated your Bell’s Palsy and muscle tightness. If you’re having trouble moving your face or experiencing discomfort in your neck, we offer effective treatments that aim to reduce inflammation and swelling while restoring movement. 

To achieve a successful recovery from Bell’s Palsy, we suggest using a combination of Chinese herbs in conjunction with regular acupuncture sessions. It’s important to note that a weak and deficient immune system can contribute to the development of this condition. Maintaining a strong and healthy defense mechanism can significantly reduce your chances of being affected by Bell’s Palsy. That’s why we place great importance on living a healthy lifestyle.

When Should I start Acupuncture?

It is generally recommended to seek treatment for Bell’s Palsy as soon as possible for a better prognosis. Delayed treatment, often months or years after onset, can result in more complex and prolonged cases with no guarantee of full recovery.

The frequency of acupuncture treatment depends on a few factors, such as your age and how severe your condition is. If you recently started experiencing something like Bell’s Palsy, you might need to go in for 2-3 treatments each week to get the best results. On the other hand, if you have a more long-term condition, you might only need to go once a week.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy and would like to explore Acupuncture as a potential treatment option, please reach out to us by sending a message through our contact page. Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post! I appreciate your interest and hope to see you again for future posts.

Call or Text us to get Free Consultation at 972-777-0836

We understand this can be a lot of information and overwhelming: if you are looking for more support and answers, set up a free consultation with our Bell's Palsy Specialist, Satoru Ozawa. Share your story, get your questions answered, and learn how you can set yourself up for tremendous success in achieving a healthy life.

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