Bell’s palsy, all you need to know about the Rare Condition Angelina Jolie has been Diagnosed with

It seems Angelina Jolie is still not immune from health problems since her double Mastectomy in 2013. In an interview to Vanity Fair recently, the Oscar winning actress revealed how after splitting with Brad Pitt, she was diagnosed with Bell’s palsy and hypertension.

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The fact that someone like Angelina Jolie has been diagnosed with Bell’s palsy may now bring the disease into the limelight even as it is regarded as a rare condition which affects one in 5000 people a year. Here are some important facts about Bells Palsy, what exactly causes it, how is it diagnosed, its symptoms and treatment.

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1 What is Bell’s palsy?

Bell’s palsy is a condition of temporary paralysis of the muscles on just on side of the face. It is in most cases the most common cause of facial paralysis. Sylvester Stallone also suffers from Bell’s palsy having been born with it. The condition was named after its discoverer Sir Charles Bell who documented and presented three cases of the disease to the Royal Society of London in 1829.

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Bell’s palsy usually affects men and women between 15 to 60 where pregnant women are more susceptible to the disease than others. Those with diabetes and HIV are at higher risk of contracting the condition. One should be warned however that a sudden onset of facial paralysis should be cause for immediate medical attention as that could be a sign of stroke rather than Bell’s palsy.

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What is Bell's palsy

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2 Symptoms of Bell’s palsy

Not all people are affected by Bell’s palsy in the same way. If there is weakness on just one side of the face, it is referred to as partial palsy or mild muscle weakness. The total inability to move muscles on one side of the face is a rare form of total palsy. Palsy affects the eyelid and mouth making opening and closing difficult. Both sides of the face can be affected in a similar manner in rarer manifestations of the condition.

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Symptoms of Bell's palsy

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3 Causes of Bell’s palsy and diagnosis

Till now scientists have not been able to pinpoint what actually causes Bell’s palsy. The common assumption is that the condition occurs when the nerve that controls facial muscles becomes compressed and the facial nerve becomes inflamed. This is due to a possible viral infection of which the herpes virus is the most common cause. Other viruses also should not be ruled out.

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The only way to make an accurate diagnosis is by consulting a doctor who will diagnose Bell’s palsy by examining the muscles and nerves in your face and neck and excluding other conditions such as stroke, ear infection, Lyme disease and head injury.

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Angelina Jolie Bell's palsy diagnosis

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4 Treatment for Bell’s palsy

Recovery from Bell’s palsy is encouraging where 7 out of 10 people suffering from the condition can make a total recovery. Symptoms usually improve after two weeks and one recovers totally after nine months. Corticosteroid creams are usually administered to patients for reducing the swelling of the facial nerve. Never treat yourself but always follow your doctor’s advice on choice of medication. Those facing problems in closing their eye are also administered eye drops and tape is also used whenever necessary.

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In certain conditions of the disease which are more severe, there could be issues of facial weakness as well as complications like eye ulceration, lack of taste, speech impairment, facial tightness, eye/mouth synkinesias and even tears during eating.

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Treatment for Bell's palsy

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5 Can Bell’s palsy reoccur again?

As per facts about Bell’s palsy, there is a possibility of the condition reoccurring in 14% of people. Those with a family history of the disease are at particular risk of the disease reoccurring. 2 out of 10 patients may face serious long term problems like eye problems and speech difficulty and reduced sense of taste.

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Angelina Jolie Bell's palsy facing media

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