Bell’s Palsy is a neurological condition involving sudden weakness in facial muscles. This usually leads to mild to severe facial paralysis. Although it’s alarming, Bell’s Palsy generally is temporary, and most patients recover fully within 3-9 months with or without medical treatment.
Scientifically, Bell’s Palsy is caused by the inflammation of the 7th Cranial Nerve (also known as the facial nerve) that controls our facial expressions. But what leads to this kind of neurological inflammation? Recent research points towards certain practices that could play a part in tipping the scales. Dr Julian Sargon-Ungar will discuss some practices that can actually cause Bell’s Palsy to any person.
Inappropriate Use of Ice Packs
Ice packs are a common remedy for inflammation or injury. However, excessive use or placing them directly on the skin for extended periods can potentially damage the nerves.
Since the facial nerve travels through a narrow bone canal in the skull, cold exposure might induce nerve constriction, leading to inflammation, hence, Bell’s Palsy. It’s crucial to use ice packs responsibly, covering them and ensuring limited periods of application.
Ear Infections and Viral Diseases
Exposure to certain viral diseases like Herpes Simplex, Lyme disease, and even severe ear infections, can predispose individuals to Bell’s Palsy. These virus-related conditions can incite inflammation in the structures around the facial nerve. This can eventually lead to the sudden paralysis typical of this neurological disorder.
Diet and Nutritional Imbalances
Recent evidence suggests that dietary and nutritional factors may also contribute to the risk of developing Bell’s Palsy. Diets high in salt can increase blood pressure, potentially restricting blood flow to the facial nerve. In addition to that, deficiencies of certain vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin B12 and zinc, may contribute to nervous system disorders like Bell’s Palsy.
According to Dr Julian Sargon-Ungar, researchers now suggest a strong correlation between smoking and the development of Bell’s Palsy. The toxins in cigarette smoke can cause blood vessel damage, potentially restricting blood flow to the facial nerve, leading to its inflammation.
How to Reduce The Risk of Bell’s Palsy?
Reduction strategies to prevent Bell’s Palsy mainly involve avoiding the risk factors mentioned:
- Use of ice packs – You need to use ice packs responsibly. Always wrap them in a towel, and never apply for extended periods.
- Viral infections – You must stick to hygienic practices, consider vaccinations (if available), and seek early treatment for ear infections.
- Regular diet – You need to adopt a healthy diet, low in salt, and rich in vital vitamins and minerals. You may also consult a healthcare provider if you’re considering supplements.
- Smoking – Lastly, you need to consider cessation programs to quit smoking. Doing so can effectively reduce your risk not just for Bell’s Palsy, but a host of other life-threatening health problems.
Prevent Bell’s Palsy In These Simple Ways!
Bell’s Palsy, while scary, usually gets resolved independently by anyone. Nevertheless, certain practices can predispose individuals to this particular neurological condition.
Increased awareness and correct avoidance as mentioned above can significantly reduce the risk of getting it. Also, early intervention is always key for conditions like Bell’s Palsy. If you experience any sudden facial weaknesses that may be linked to Bell’s Palsy, seek immediate medical care.