Bell’s palsy is a condition that can occur in people of any age, and it tends to manifest in a common way – facial paralysis. While some people experience mild cases without any real symptoms, others may experience quite severe cases that cause lasting damage. Often, it is best to get prompt treatment for it, and this is particularly true when it is an infant with the condition.
The condition is due to inflammation or trauma to a nerve known as the facial nerve. Experts tend to agree that it is a condition that will usually go away on its own, but it can take from two weeks to six months for it to totally resolve itself. Sometimes, it becomes a permanent disability.
It usually appears as an asymmetrical paralysis (one sided) of the face. Because it is due to the nerve that controls a lot of functions in the face, however, it can manifest in a lot of different ways. Infants with Bell’s palsy may drool excessively or have too little saliva. They might produce too many tears from one eye or have dry eye. They may show signs of pain in the ear and jaw, and they may experience dizziness or lose their sense of taste.
Because of this, treatment has to be based on the symptom rather than the condition itself. In fact, if you speak to a physician they will tell you that there is no cure for it and that it is always the symptoms treated instead. The goal is to provide comfort and limit damage if possible.
Of course, knowing why an infant develops it leads many to feel there could be some sort of cure. This is because a lot of babies are believed to contract it from mothers infected with the herpes virus. However, there is no conclusive evidence that proves that treatment against the virus would erase symptoms. Instead, the following remedies are frequently used:
From antiviral compounds to topical remedies, there are many medications that can help an infant with the symptoms of Bell’s palsy. The most common are antiviral drugs that are administered to mothers who test positive for conditions related to the development of Bell’s palsy. Additionally, some doctors will treat infants with drugs known to address the viruses they believe are infecting the facial nerve.
There are also topical medications used to help reduce inflammation to the nerve. Usually, these are applied once paralysis appears, and the goal is for the medications to relieve swelling and give the nerve ample room inside of the facial tissue.
There are also standard pain relievers used to provide the infant with comfort and to alleviate the pain associated with the condition.
Because a baby is constantly developing, a case of Bell’s palsy can really interrupt their natural progress. The use of therapy can prevent muscles from atrophying and losing their function. It is also possible to keep nerves stimulated and firing properly through physical therapy as well, and with an infant it is often going to be a combination of muscular exercises and gentle massage.
As a final tactic against Bell’s palsy, a doctor may decide to take the pressure off of the facial nerve through a surgical release of tissue or compression. Unfortunately, this remedy comes with risks to the child’s hearing, and can result in hearing loss or nerve damage in the face.
Bell’s palsy is not a fatal or dangerous condition, but it can impair the infant’s development. It is important to get as many treatment options as possible to help the baby continue to develop normally and to alleviate the discomfort of this condition.