Facial nerve palsy is common when nerves controlling facial movements get damaged when giving birth. Although many cases of facial nerve palsy cure themselves, some kids are forced to deal with permanent nerve damage, which can affect one side of their faces throughout their lives.
Usually, facial nerve palsy is preventable. In most cases, not using instruments, such as forceps, properly during birth or incorrect medication use may result in this condition.
If you suspect facial nerve palsy at birth was caused by a doctor’s negligence, visit Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C for a birth injury attorney. Your attorney understands how serious a facial nerve injury is and its long-term impacts on newborn babies.
Facial nerve paralysis is mostly caused by damage to the area of a patient’s brain that sends signals to their muscles around the face. It is also caused by swelling or damage of facial nerves that carry signals from a baby’s brain to the muscles in their face.
In healthy individuals, facial nerve palsy is often caused by Bell palsy. This refers to the condition where the facial nerve gets inflamed. Apart from this, other causes may include the following:
- Lyme disease
- Brain infection
Signs and Symptoms of Facial Nerve Palsy
Pain behind a patient’s ears usually precedes facial paresis in facial nerve palsy. Paresis, usually with complete paralysis, occurs within several hours and is maximal within 2 to 3 days.
Most patients report a heavy feeling or numbness in their faces. The affected side of their faces becomes expressionless and flat. And in severe situations, the eyes don’t close, and the palpebral fissure widens, thus, drying the cornea and irritating the conjunctiva.
Sensory evaluation is normal. However, a small patch behind a patient’s ear and external auditory canal can be very painful to touch. If the nerve lesion is proximal to the geniculate ganglion, lacrimation, taste, and salivation can be impaired.
When to Visit a Doctor
Seek help from a doctor immediately if you start experiencing any paralysis since you might be having a stroke. A stroke doesn’t cause facial nerve palsy but might have similar symptoms.
If you have a facial drooping or weakness, consult a doctor to determine the underlying cause and discover the seriousness of your illness.
Doctors can use one or several diagnostic tests to know the cause of the symptoms. Depending on the results of the tests, your doctor may decide whether further tests are necessary. But the most common tests a doctor may do are:
- Blood test
- Stapedius reflex test
- MRI scan
- Physical examination
Treatment for facial nerve palsy depends on the cause. For instance, if the cause is Bell palsy, your doctor can prescribe some medications and recommend several exercises for facial strengthening. And if you get facial paralysis because of a tumor, your doctor will highlight options for removing the tumor.
Coping with facial nerve palsy can be very stressful. This is why it is best to seek medical help from a doctor immediately. And if a doctor’s negligence caused the condition during birth, consult a good birth injury attorney to guide you.