Anyone here ever have Bell’s Palsy?

My mom got it for the first time on Friday, and will be seeing a doctor about it today (Friday she just went to the emergency room).

She’s pretty miserable right about now, and wishing she could find some online support, but the sites she’s found don’t seem all that lively. I was wondering if anyone might know of some coping strategies I could give her. For instance, her eye hurts a lot and she hasn’t been able to keep it closed. Also, she’d like to work and go out in public, but she doesn’t know how people would deal with that. She’s…depressed, to put it mildly.

If anyone has some helpful tips I could pass along, we’d be grateful.

I developed Bell’s Palsy back in 2000, so I might have some ideas for your mother. If her eye problems are anything like mine, then none of the eye patches seem to work for keeping the darn thing shut at night. All of the eye injury patches that use medical tape didn’t provide enough of a hold to keep the eyelid down. What worked best for me was the classic black patch stuffed with tissue paper.

Also, she might try deep tissue massage. Nothing fancy, no special patterns or pressure points, but make sure she massages both sides of her face at the same time. Oddly enough, another technique that helped was using a straw for drinking. Don’t default to putting the straw on the side that still works properly, but tell her to try to actually pucker her lips around it. It probably won’t work at first and will lead to lots of drooling, but if she sticks with it, it could definitely help during the recovery period.

As for the depression, I’m sorry to say I can’t really help there since the only thing that’s worked for me is time and distance. I will say that I went back to work right after I was diagnosed and, aside from some genuinely curious comments, most people were sympathetic. After a couple of days, no one really seemed to notice anymore. That didn’t stop me from being hyperaware of it, of course, but it did help a little.

I’ll hold off on discussing my medical treatment because I don’t want to seem as though I’m giving medical advice and also, I don’t think it would help to alleviate your mother’s depression at all, since the story doesn’t have the best outcome.

I think individual cases vary widely. My wife had it, apparently caused by Lyme Disease. I think she did the eyepatch thing too, but her problem was less not being able to close the eye, and more simply that side of her face being kind of “droopy” and her speech being slightly slurred.

The doctor prescribed antibiotics for the Lyme Disease, and the Palsy went away with it.

I had a co-worker that got it suddenly out of no where and it 'caused similar physical and emotional issues with her. In about six months though it went away though and it didn’t leave any after effect, at least that I could see or she told me about.

From my understanding the symptons and recovery are widely varied but I guess the way one has to look at it is, at lot worse things could’ve happened. Of course that doesn’t make your mum feel better, but it’s something to give her persepective.

My brother had it, and it went away completely… on its own, IIRC.

My son had it in his 20’s. The doctor prescribed Prednisone and it went away within a few days and hasn’t come back.

Wow, thanks for the quick responses! I just talked to Mom and she is being referred to an ENT doctor to see if she can be cured. IF. I had been under the impression that it was always temporary… I’m rooting for Lyme Disease now.

Roman, I will pass along your advice.

I had it a few years ago - in my case it lasted about a month. I had a full recovery and no recurrence. It was scary when I first got it, but I felt more at ease as the symptoms slowly began to fade away. I’ve known several people who have had it (they all come out of the wood work and tell you their story as soon as they see the classic droopy face). Every one of them recovered fully, so that seems to be the most common outcome, though it can be permanent. One poor girl had it on her wedding day and it’s noticeable in all of her pictures. She also fully recovered, but talk about bad timing!

I should note that my wife’s Lyme Disease was otherwise pretty much asymptomatic – there was no fever, aches, or tell-tale “bullseye blotch”. The infection was only detected via blood test when they were diagnosing the Palsy. My daughter and I subsequently developed Lyme Disease within a couple of years (also successfully treated with antibiotics), and had the more typical symptoms, but no Bell’s Palsy.

For most people Bells Palsy arrives unexpectedly and goes away like it came.

It does need to be looked at by a professional and treated, though – it does go away in some cases without treatment but there is some risk for permanent disability/injury. I know someone who had Bells palsy twice in their lifetime; the first time they recovered completely. The second time they had permanent nerve damage.

There’s some evidence (latest studies) suggesting that big doses of prednisone and acyclovir administered as soon as possible and then taken for a month to six weeks thereafter gives the best chances for complete recovery. The rest of the treatment is looking after the eye that can’t close, using artificial tears when needed, and resting as necessary.

I had Bells Palsy 2 years ago. I had the aggressive program of treatment outlined above and within six weeks the facial droop was gone. I had a fair amount of facial pain from the regeneration of nerve fibers – it was quite painful – but it was also a good sign so I didn’t feel too bad about it.

I was not able to play any sort of brass instrument for about four months – couldn’t at first, didn’t have control of my facial muscles – I regained control after six weeks or so but any kind of playing was quite painful. I didn’t start playing again until I had no pain at all, I was advised not to try, not to push, not to irritate those nerves. The few times I tried it was so painful I didn’t have a problem putting down the horn.

I have had some eye problems since, dryness and some loss of vision. If that’s the only vestige of damage left then I got off pretty easy, I think. Occasionally I have tingling in my face and that is worrisome – I always run to the mirror to see if the droop is back – but so far so good.

I hope your Mom makes a full recovery.

My spouse gets Bells every so often - on average, maybe about once every three to four years. For him, it seems to be stress-based to trigger it.

He’s had it enough times that as soon as he notes any droop, he’s on the phone to the doctor for Zovirax and pred. Occurrences don’t happen frequently enough to warrant keeping the meds or a prescription on hand.

Generally, the first dose is in by lunchtime, and then it takes roughly a week for things to be outwardly back to normal, but the meds continue for a couple weeks more.

Ditto for me, except I was 50-ish. The doctor didn’t seem very worried, even though she couldn’t say what caused it.

I had a boss that got it once. The root cause is usually unknown other than what is known about swelling of the cranial facial nerve but it usually heals in time. That might take weeks or much longer. My boss took about 6 months to heal but he made a full recovery like most people do. I don’t know your mother’s personality but I like people to be realistic with me when it comes to these types of medical issues. Bell’s Palsy sucks for sure but she should know that she will get better but it will take time. It probably isn’t a permanent condition even if she never saw a doctor about it (but she still should anyway obviously). The best thing to do is to develop effective coping strategies, wait it out, and realize that this too shall pass.

My husband has had it twice- once about 7 years ago and once last month. It comes straight out of nowhere and BAM, it hits. For him, his right side of the face stops working pretty much completely, a bad thing since he is a singer. He just kind of went about his business and to most people it probably just looked like he’d had dental work done that day. He was put on serious strong doses of Prednisone and Valtrex and it resolved within about 2.5 weeks or so (same during the first bout).

There’s not much you can do for the emotional part of it except to recognize that generally it will resolve on its own and it probably doesn’t look as bad to other people as it does to you. He used lubricant eye drops to keep his eye moist and covered it with a patch to keep it closed as much as possible while that was bothering him. Slowly but surely he was improvement and then it resolved.

Feel free to PM if you have any specific questions I can help you out with.

I really appreciate all of your posts. I sent Mom the link and she says:

I was a little miffed the other day when I was browsing around on a Bell’s site and noticed someone named DungBeetle posting there. I was further annoyed to see that she was also female and in Florida. Today I found out the lousy, name-thieving copycat was my mom. :eek::mad::smiley:

Two things of note that I forgot to mention: My husbands father had on again/off again Bells Palsy over the years, so think he was pre-disposed to it. We also noted that this last episode was immediately after he hit his head rather hard and thinking back, the first incident was shortly after a motorcycle accident. We suspect that he may have injured that cranial nerve initially and maybe re-aggravated it a few weeks ago.

Hard to say, as they don’t know what causes it. He was treated with Valtrex (antiviral) as well as the prednisone and really we don’t know which one even worked, but something sure did.