I got bells palsy earlier this year. I had just got my results for my end of year exams at Uni. and my mum came to pick me up from my house.
On the drive home, I had a bottle of flavoured water and I could only taste on one side of my tongue. I thought this was odd at the time and didn't think anything of it again.
The next day I was surfing the net and my right eye was watering really badly. I thought I was just tired, besides I had spent ages on the net and you know how your eyes start to hurt anyway.
The next morning after that I was brushing my teeth and kept hitting my lip on my right side. I was confused and tried opening my mouth further but couldn't. Looking at myself in the mirror I realised that I couldn't blink my right eye or flare my right nostril. I went and told my mum and she said, "Oh, you've got bells palsy", she'd had it before and so recognised the symptoms.
We phoned NHS direct who were really helpful and told us to go to A&E anyway.
At A&E, I saw the triage nurse and was awarded high priority so went straight in to the doctor. After a few face-pulling tests he sent me on my way with a tube of Chloramphenical to treat my eye.
Bells Palsy is a paralysis of one side of the face (usually. Bilateral palsy can occur but is extremely rare) caused by an infection, usually viral. The nerve affected is the VII cranial nerve, which was studied in great detail by the Scottish surgeon Sir Charles Bell, hence the name. It can also occur due to mechanical damage.
Apparently diabetics are four times more likely to develop bells palsy, which is funny because my girlfriends mum, thinks I am diabetic.
About one in 5000 people suffer with Bells Palsy during their lifetime and it affects both sexes and all races equally.
About 50% recover completely within a short time and 80% within a year.
Bells Palsy doesn't hurt. The only pain I had was behind my ear and must have been due to mechanical pressure from the infection. The most important thing to remember is your eye on the affected side.
Because you can't blink you are at risk of picking up a secondary infection in the eye. The Chloramphenical is an antibiotic and was prescribed to prevent any infection. You have to apply the cream and then tape your eye shut. It can be quite frustrating when your eye won't stay closed.
You do get funny looks from people and some people who develop Bells Palsy actually get quite down about it. I'm a very easy going person, I didn't mind what people thought of what I looked, but even I felt a bit down at times. I was thinking along the lines of 'What happens if it doesn't go away?'.
My Bells Palsy went in a few months but even now if I'm watching a film or eating, my right eye will water a lot. I sometimes also get a brief cramp when I yawn. I don't know if it will clear up 100% but I'm not worried.
A few thing that I thought were quite interesting:
The way your forehead wrinkles change shape and completely go on the one side even after only a couple of days.
Freaking people out when you sneeze, because only one of you eyes can close. It dispels the myth that if you hold your eyes open they will pop out.
Also, I got to wear a patch for a couple of weeks.
Well I hope that this is helpful if you have developed Bells Palsy. My advice is not to worry, do some research on the net. There are plenty of resources available. One of the best is www.bellspalsy.ws