By Dr. Mercola
If you’ve been diagnosed with Bell’s palsy before, there’s a 6 to 7 percent chance you can have a second attack in the future. When that does happen, the risk for a third attack increases to 12 to 15 percent. The chances of subsequent attacks usually double from the previous percentage,1 with an average interval of 10 years.2 To help significantly lower your chances of developing Bell’s palsy again, there are several things you can do.
A Healthy Diet Is Important to Build Your Nervous System
It’s important that you start eating a healthy diet to help support your nervous system health. Experts generally recommend foods rich in B vitamins, as this particular group can help repair damaged nerves and maintain a healthy nervous system overall. The following foods can help you start:
• Vitamin B12: Pasture-raised eggs, Greenland or Norwegian shrimp and sardines
Other important foods you can add to your diet are those rich in anti-inflammatory compounds. Garlic, turmeric and chili peppers can help reduce inflammation throughout your body, helping treat your nerve inflammation. In addition, you need to consume omega-3 regularly, because a deficiency in this essential fatty acid can cause your nerve cells to stiffen, disrupting the communication between muscles and the brain.
Work With a Licensed Physical Therapist to Treat Your Symptoms
A licensed physical therapist experienced in treating facial paralysis is an invaluable asset to have on your road to recovery. Therapists can teach you specific exercises to help regain unresponsive muscles, as well as other techniques to help manage other symptoms. Your therapist will also educate you on bad practices you should avoid that can worsen your condition. A few examples of therapies or methods that will be taught to you include:
• Taping your eye: If your paralysis has severely affected your ability to blink an eye, you may need to take drastic measures to make sure it doesn’t become dry and infected, such as taping your eye. This is usually done by using medical tape that’s soft on your skin.3
• Managing dry mouth: It’s possible that Bell’s palsy can affect your ability to produce saliva, since the facial nerve controls two saliva glands. Your therapist will teach you how to compensate for the lack of saliva, such as keeping a water bottle beside you at all times, or adding extra sauce to your food to make it easier to chew and swallow.4
• Making speech clearer: If you’re having difficulties speaking due to paralysis, your therapist can teach you ways to express yourself properly while you recover.5
• Performing exercises: Your therapist may demonstrate some stretching and massaging exercises to help you regain control of the paralyzed area and reduce unwanted, involuntary movements.6