Symptoms and Causes of Facial Nerve Paralysis
Facial palsy is a general term referring to the weakening of the facial muscles. When the facial nerve does not function properly, facial muscles consequently will not function normally. Paralysis of the affected part of the face results, which can impact the mouth, eyes, and neck. Facial palsy can be preceded by pain behind the ear, and manifests itself usually within 48 hours with some or all of the following characteristics presenting:
- Numbness in the face.
- Lack of expression in face, inability to smile/frown.
- Inability to control eyelids. This can lead to dryness of the eyes and, in extreme cases, a damaged cornea.
- As each side of the face is controlled by its own individual facial nerve, symptoms typically present on only one side of the face.
Facial Nerve Paralysis Treatment
Treatment for facial palsy includes both medical and surgical options. Acute medical treatment is indicated for infectious causes and consists of administering corticosteroids (Prednisone) and antiviral agents (valacyclovir).
Surgical treatment of facial palsy is necessary when medical treatment does not result in full recovery.
It is imperative that protection of the cornea be a priority when control of the eyelids is lost or impaired. Lack of tears and exposure to light can lead to corneal damage. Isotonic saline solution, natural tears and eye patch or tape should be used to facilitate closing of the eye, particularly during sleep. In some cases, a platinum eyelid weight placed over the eyelid cartilage facilitates closure.
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