Benefits of Steroids in the Treatment of Bell's Palsy
The use of steroids in the treatment of disorders and diseases continue to expand. Steroids are already proven to at least help in the treatment or cure some conditions and diseases. Some notable uses of steroids are in the treatment of cancers, kidney problems, hormone problems, asthma and many others. Another use of steroids in the field of medicine is in the treatment of patients with Bell's palsy. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) describe Bell's palsy as a form of temporary facial paralysis resulting from damage or trauma to one of the two facial nerves. The facial nerve-also called the 7th cranial nerve-is a paired structure that travels through a narrow, bony canal (called the fallopian canal) in the skull, beneath the ear, to the muscles on each side of the face. It is named for Sir Charles Bell, a 19th century Scottish surgeon who was the first to describe the condition. The disorder, which is not related to stroke, is the most common cause of facial paralysis. Generally, Bell's palsy affects only one of the paired facial nerves and one side of the face. However, in rare cases, it can also affect both sides of the face.
Common Symptoms of the Disorder
The symptoms of Bell's palsy vary from person to person. Its range varies in severity from mild weakness to total paralysis which may include twitching, weakness, or paralysis on one or both sides of the face, drooping of the eyelid and corner of the mouth, drooling, dryness of the eye or mouth, impairment of taste, and excessive tearing in one eye. The symptoms usually begin suddenly and reach their peak within 48 hours which may lead to significant facial distortion.
Causes of Bell’s Palsy
Experts are still in search for the actual cause of this disorder. However, there are some studies that one of the causes of Bell's palsy is viral infection due to herpes simplex infection. It is also associated with influenza, headaches, chronic middle ear infection, high blood pressure, diabetes, sarcoidosis, tumors, Lyme disease, and trauma such as skull fracture or facial injury, brain stem injuries, acoustic neuromas, cysts and tumors. Impaired immunity such as stress and lack of sleep can also cause Bell's palsy.
There is no single treatment for Bell's palsy. The approach should vary from patient to patient depending on the severity of their condition. For mild cases, a therapy can be helpful and no further medication is needed. However, in more severe cases, medical intervention is needed to prevent further damage to the nerves and for faster recovery of the patient. The common medication or treatment for this disorder is the use of antiviral drugs such as acyclovir which is used to fight viral infections. The treatment is commonly combined with an anti-inflammatory drug such as the steroid prednisone which is used to reduce inflammation and swelling. It is noted that these combination is effective in improving facial function by limiting or reducing damage to the nerve. Analgesics such as aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen may also be used to relieve pain. A study conducted by University of Alexandria in Egypt validated the efficacy of using steroids in the treatment of patients with Bell's palsy. The rate of satisfactory recovery in all steroid treated patients was higher (79 of 93 patients) which is 85%. There was also evidence that steroid treatment of Bell's palsy is effective more than 24 hours after the onset of facial paralysis. With these development, more doctors are now using steroids to help patient recover from this disorder.