Newly diagnosed with Bells Palsy - Facial Palsy UK

Facial Palsy UK

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Newly diagnosed with Bells Palsy

Juliet1960 profile image

I was diagnosed this morning with Bells Palsy and have just started a 10 day course of steroids. Biggest worry is my smile which is more like a grimace. Any advice?

15 Replies

I've had it for 7 years now most people's goes back after a couple of months take all the meds they give you as that's your best chance of it getting better try not to worry as it will improve after a couple of weeks my advice is tape your eye shut at night to stop it drying out big hugs to you as I no what your going through x

Thanks Brookside. I did manage to get the prednisalone 24 hours after the onset of symptoms as a friend recognised the symptoms so I am hoping my recovery will be quick. The biggest issue is the dry eyes and used the ointment last night but will go to opticians tomorrow to get some drops. I do have to tape my right eye shut and push the eyelid manually during the day as I am not blinking that side. Getting twitches above eyebrow on that side today though (day 3 after symptoms started) so not sure if that good or bad. Saw my baby granddaughter today and hardest thing not to smile at her as more of a grimace 😒.

Hi Juliet, The only advice I can give is from my own experience. It is a distressing affliction that strike indiscriminatory. The first thing is do not stress it will get better. The most important thing is getting started and sticking with the steroid treatment ASAP. It is anti inflammatory so the quicker your cranial nerve starts to react the better.

Be patient. Everyone expects steroids to act immediately, They don't, it takes time. Even when you finish the course .

I had this in October 18th 2015. Initial sign was left eye was sore, as if I had an infection, This was followed a day and a half later with numbness in bottom left of lip, almost like a dental injection. Couldn't dislodge food between gum and cheek and it got progressively worse during the day. Checked in the mirror and mouth was drooping left corner. Unable to smile symmetrically. Speech slurred, unable to raise left brow or blink left eye, so it stayed opened. (Hence the dry eye). Unable to flare left nostril. Paralysis on the left side of the face-Couldn't hold toothpaste in mouth whilst brushing teeth. Unable to blow cheeks out. The joys of Bells Palsy! Oh, and another symptom that bothered me but pleased my partner.....Unable to whistle!

Most sufferers that you read about on Bell's Palsy through googling or you tubing are those who are long term recoverees on the whole. People who recover quickly you tend not to hear about as it is over quite quickly, which doesn't help those searching for answers. Yes there are those that are unfortunate where recovery is a long and drawn out affair but most make a full recovery and on the whole relatively quickly, although never quickly enough if you know what I mean?

The following are some Do's and Don'ts. I am not a doctor and these are things that I have come across through hours/days of research. They don't replace professional medical advice but may be helpful.

Do embark on the steroids ASAP. If delayed longer than 72 hour they lose their efficacy and may consequently prolong and even compromise recovery. I took Omega 3 supplements and a B complex that was recommended by my partner.

Don't start to do facial exercises to force recovery. It is unhelpful but understandable to think it could help but, It is the cranial nerve that has been compromised because of swelling not your facial muscles. Forced facial exercise can promote the nerve to repath whilst recovering and connect to other facial muscles, i.e so you could end up winking when chewing.

Do use replacement tears for the Dry eye. Inability to blink cause dry eye and potential damage to the cornea, so apply replacement tear drops during the day and ointment over night. Luckily I was able to close and keep both eyelids shut overnight but some may need to tape it closed. I did wake some mornings with halos around lights but this was eliminated by applying some eye drops, so some drying out must have occurred

Don't expect miracle cures or your doctor to have more than steroids and eye drops/ointment to offer. There are only c 5000 cases in the UK per year out of c64 million! My doctor had only come across 1 in the previous 5 years

I finished my steroids on day 10 and there was no change. Day 13 no change (although if I didn't speak no one noticed there was anything wrong. Day 15 slight movement to left side of lip and improvement to blinking albeit left side slower than right.. day 18 more improvement to blinking, left brow rising. Day 21 able to purse lips and whistle day 23 equally flare to both nostrils. Smile has got wider.

As of today's date 29.11.15 A full recovery and no residual issues. The most stressful time I can remember but it has passed as it will for you too.

Everyone is different so recovery comes at different times. But the one common thing is it does take time, so be patient and don't force it.

I believe that stress and the immune system being compromised is a major factor in getting this, so rest and recuperation are key as well as the steroids and eye maintenance. Hope this was helpful.

Speedy recovery Juliet1960!

My husband has had this for three days and it was helpful reading what you had to say and very reassuring.

Reading this post has been so so helpful! My husband developed a facial palsy 4 days ago, it was such a frightening experience due to not knowing what was wrong. He'd had a headache on and off for two days and then woke up with facial paralysis on his left side and some issues on the right. Went straight to A &E and after ruling out a stroke, they gave him a tentative diagnosis of BP. Started him on the steroids and (fingers crossed) his symptoms seemed to have peaked. Speech is a bit slurred due to the partly frozen mouth but his biggest issue is the dry eye. Discovered today that taping it up when he eats is much more comfortable but we are trying to get to see his doctor tomorrow to gave a check up. Your post has been so helpful though and I've just read it to him. Am trying to keep him positive and your message has helped so much so thank you again! 

Juliet1960 profile image
Juliet1960 in reply to RachelMM

Sorry to hear your husband has been diagnosed with Bells Palsy and yes I remember my morning in A and E last year as if it was yesterday. Never been to A and E before for myself in 55 years but to hospitals credit they triaged me through to urgent as they also thought I had had a stroke, not helped by my bp being sky high as I have hypertension anyway. As you no doubt know recovery time is so variable but as your husband got the steroids early too hopefully it will be quick. My symptoms had virtually gone within three weeks and totally disappeared within 5-6 weeks. Every time I get a blocked ear (that was my first symptom before the Bell's palsy started) I am paranoid about wrapping up my face and neck with hat and scarf. The eye cream may help your husbands dry eye issue but I expect the doctor will suggest something.

RachelMM profile image
RachelMM in reply to Juliet1960

Thank you so much. I have to say the hospital were fantastic although even they admitted they were a bit perplexed as at that point he was showing various symptoms and he also was triaged quickly to rule out stroke. With him being 37, fit and (usually) healthy they said a stroke was probably not the issue but they needed to rule it out anyway. Also the fact that at that point he still had movement in his eyebrows. That is now completely paralysed but fortunately it seems as I said in my earlier post, the symptoms seem to peaked now, and he's no worse than Saturday. Thank you for your positive message though, at least it gives hope in this scary time- let's just hope doctor is up on BP! Take care!

Thanks and great you have managed to recover fully from this. I did get steroids early so hoping this helps speed it up. Any advice as to whether to go to work or should I rest? The registrar at the hospital said I could work but all the advice says rest. I have a 3/4 mile walk to and from park and ride each way and use computer screens all day so not sure if that is good idea. Useful to get an idea of how long before you noticed improvements. I am not usually a vain person but am surprised how self conscious I feel when talking as normally I am very confident. I am keeping quieter which no doubt my family are quite happy about 😀😀.

You were lucky you didn't need to tape your eye shut at night. I taped mine and put an eye pad last night on and it was not a comfortable feeling at all. I will get some replacement tears tomorrow at then chemist as my local hospital just gave me ointment.

So pleased you have done so well though and I will try to be patient but may be avoiding photos at Christmas. 😊😊

grin9 profile image
grin9 in reply to Juliet1960

how are you getting on? i'm on day 9 no improvement yet...

Ideally rest is key but to be honest your major problem is not the travelling but may not be helped by the discomfort of staring at a screen all day. My issue was severe speech impediment through the paralysis and eye pain that was not helped by spending hours looking for advice on Bell's Palsy and watching you tube vids of long term sufferers on the laptop. Better to avoid extensive eye strain. Your doctor will sign you off and that may not be a bad thing.

As I have mentioned previously although no real research has confirmed this, there is (I believe), a connection between stress and compromised immune system. Or both. So it can't do any harm to rest if you are able to.

All being well this will have recovered in time for Xmas, so photo will be fine.

With regards to your dry eye as well as using drops get a microwavable eye bag, preferably one with flax in. Look at It helps with remoisturising the eyes, but I also find it helps with getting you to relax. I've had Bell's Palsy for 15 years and currently recovering from a relapse I had in 2013. I'm one of the unlucky ones and may not fully recover, but with the help of specialists and physio, I will get as near to a full recovery as I can. But what I have learnt is that you can't let it get you down, it doesn't help the recovery. You will see an improvement. And I agree with movieman1960, get signed off work and relax. Oh and if you find the steroids taste yuk, have something tasty to eat afterwards. All the best and a big hug to get you through the first few weeks.xx

I started to reply earlier today, but was on my phone and the typing was taking too long! I had Bell's Palsy in April 2015. I would say try to relax and don't stress about it, if at all possible. I am retired but very busy, I found it very uncomfortable to drive, read or look at a computer screen for more than a few minutes at a time due to the lack of blink and dry eye. If your eye feels uncomfortable, apply the eye drops/ ointment, as it is usually that your eye needs moisture. My optician was very helpful and advised that the eye ointment is like moisturising cream and you cannot overdose on it, so use it as often as you need to. She also advised on when to stop taping the eye shut (luckily she had recently been on a study day for Bell's at our local hospital).

Initially my GP gave me 10 days of lowish dose of daily steroids (taken with food at breakfast time to minimise side effects). However, I was called to see another GP in the practice to check how things were going (it was the long Easter weekend and they were worried about me not being able to get help if I needed it) and as there had been no improvement she increased the steroid dose which decreased every 3 days until it stopped completely.

I found it very helpful to rest on the bed for 30 minutes every afternoon, concentrating on complete relaxation and wearing a plane eye mask.

I drank everything with a straw (interesting drinking wine with a straw in a restaurant, felt very wrong drinking hot drinks!) otherwise I made a dribbling mess, and had to take very small mouthfuls of food or I could not cope.

I started to notice slight changes after 10 days of complete paralysis and was about 95% healed 3 weeks from the first symptoms.

Sending you a big hug and hoping your symptoms improve soon.

Hey, I've just been diagnosed with Bell's palsy also, it came on Sunday night with a numb tongue and funny hearing, next morning my face was paralysed on one side. I got to see a doctor right away that day but was advised not to take he medication until the following morning which was very stressful. I'm now on my third day and if anything it feels like it's getting worse which is really worrying. I hope you are doing better and thanks for sharing, it's weirdly comforting hearing other people are going through the same thing.

I have only just found your post but yes I am completely better and hope you are too. It took me about one month to totally recover.

I wish I could help you , I also have Bell's Palsy going into my 10 month.... some days it looks like it's getting better then some days it looks like I'm going backward... other than therapy I know of nothing else that can be done .,.. there is no cure for this 😩 Keep your chin up .... there is light at the end of the tunnel 😩 So I'm told .....

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