In late 2009, Dr. Lamont Tyler appeared on Doc Talk, a weekly radio program on Cities 92.9 Talk FM, to render his opinion on a non-life-threatening condition: Bell’s palsy.
Defined as a paralysis or weakness on one side of the face, Bell’s palsy is usually caused by a swelling or inflammation of the nerve that controls facial muscles. Those who develop Bell’s palsy exhibit a sudden onset of symptoms and can literally wake up one day with the condition. Some of the symptoms of Bell’s palsy include a drooping eyelid on the paralyzed side of the face; an inability to smile or make other facial expressions; an inability to close one’s eyes; drooling; and, sometimes, pain in or around the ear. Some individuals may think they have had a stroke, but Bell’s palsy is easily recognizable if there are no additional neurological problems.
Though no definitive cause for Bell’s palsy exists, certain factors increase one's risk of developing the condition. Viral infections, like Lyme disease and herpes simplex, can sometimes cause Bell's palsy. Also, pregnant women are at a greater risk for Bell’s palsy because they carry more fluid in the body, which can contribute to a swelling of the nerves. Diabetics remain four times more likely to develop Bell’s palsy than the general population, and upper respiratory infections can also lead to the condition. Those who exhibit symptoms should seek medical attention right away. Doctors suggest beginning treatment within 24 hours to minimize the risk of any residual neurological effects.
Treatment of Bell’s palsy usually begins with the use of steroids. Physicians may also prescribe anti-viral medications if the evaluation is suggestive of a herpes infection. Patients benefit from hourly eye drops to increase lubrication of the affected eye. In addition, facial massaging works to minimize muscle contractures. Patients normally notice improvement within weeks or months, and close to 70 percent of those who are diagnosed with Bell’s palsy fully recover. The facial nerves may sustain damage, depending on the extent of the recovery (full or partial), and some individuals may experience long-term adverse effects. In some cases, Bell’s palsy can recur.
As Medical Director of OSF St. Joseph Medical Center’s PromptCare, Dr. Lamont Tyler takes pride in the diverse array of services offered to all individuals on a walk-in basis.