Most patients with Bell’s palsy fully recover without treatment in a matter of months. However, there are several treatment options available:
- Antiviral medications: Medications such as acyclovir and famiciclovir can limit or reduce damage to the nerve in cases where a virus is causing the condition.
- Steroid medications: A short treatment course of corticosteroids may reduce swelling and inflammation in the narrow, bony channel through which the facial nerves run.
- Eye protection: Because Bell’s palsy commonly affects the eyes and can interrupt the eyelid’s blinking ability, it is important to keep the eye moist and clear of debris, especially at night. Lubricating eye drops and eye patches can be helpful.
- Message: A facial massage may help prevent permanent problems associated with paralyzed muscles, and patients with Bell’s palsy need to relax, as stress can worsen the condition.
- Surgery: While surgeries to decompress and realign the facial nerve have been attempted, they haven’t worked that well and come with potentially serious side effects. On some occasions, plastic surgery may be needed to reduce deformities and correct damage such as a crooked smile.
- Physical therapy: In some cases, physical therapy can help individuals suffering from neurological disorders, including Bell’s palsy, though more research is needed.